European Interest

EU sues three eastern European members over low refugee intake

Flickr/Martin Leveneur/CC BY-ND 2.0
Refugees and migrants at the Szeged refugee camp, Southern Hungary.

The European Commission took the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the European Court of Justice on December 7 over their failure to accept their required quotas for refugees.

The contentious quota scheme, which was adopted at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, was focused on “burden-sharing,” meaning that 160,000 refugees should be relocated across most of the bloc’s 28 member-states to ease the burden on Greece and Italy.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the scheme requires the three eastern nations to settle around 8,000 migrants between them as part of the quota. However, so far Hungary and Poland have taken in none at all, while the Czech Republic has accepted just 12.

“The European Commission has today decided to refer the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for non-compliance with their legal obligations on relocation,” the Commission said in a statement. “This is why the Commission has decided to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure and refer the three member states to the Court of Justice of the EU.”

The three countries, however, claim that Brussels is attempting to interfere with their national sovereignty. They could face heavy fines if they do not comply with any court ruling on their duty to accept refugees.

According to DW, Poland is ready to defend its position. Following the European Commission’s declaration on December 7, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said his government was ready to defend its decision to refuse migrants before the ECJ.

Poland’s ruling populist Law and Justice (PiS) party has long insisted that it will not admit migrants from Africa and the Middle East, citing security concerns following a spate deadly Islamist attacks in western Europe, as well as problems associated with determining the identify of migrants.

“No one will lift the duty of providing public safety from the Polish government,” Szymanski told state news agency PAP.

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