STRASBOURG — The European Commission on Tuesday voted in favor of taking action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for refusing to accept any refugees as part of a bloc-wide relocation scheme.
“Europe is not only about requesting funds or ensuring security,” migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters. But he insisted the move was “not a punishment” and added that “if the governments reconsider their position,” the Commission could “change our decision.”
The formal infringement process starts with a letter from the Commission and countries usually have up to two months to respond and make their case. In the worst case scenario, if the country still does not comply it can face financial sanctions.
In summer 2015 the EU decided to relocate 160,000 refugees across the bloc but Poland and Hungary have taken a combined total of zero and the Czech Republic has only taken 12.
The relocation scheme was agreed upon by EU ministers and is legally binding. Yet Poland and Hungary object to the mandatory nature of the plan and the Czech Republic, which faces elections in October, recently announced it is withdrawing from the scheme, citing security concerns.
The EU has fallen far short of its commitment to relocate 160,000 refugees — with only about 20,000 redistributed so far, and Avramopoulos was careful when explaining why only these member countries have been singled out.
The relocation scheme legally obliges all member countries to make a pledge to take in refugees at least every three months — and it is failure to do this that led to Tuesday’s infringement proceedings.
Hungary has never made a pledge, Poland made one pledge in December 2015 (before the right-wing government came to power), and the Czech Republic has not made any new pledges since May 2016.
That’s why Austria, which has also taken in no refugees despite having a quota of 1,953, and Slovakia, which has taken in 16 refugees out of 902, have not been sanctioned: both countries have recently pledged.
The next obstacle for the relocation scheme is a court case launched by Slovakia and Hungary, which object to it being mandatory and will be discussed at the court on July 26.
Avramopoulos said the relocation scheme remains binding “unless the court decides differently” but the Commission “is confident that our position in this case will hold.”
Click Here: Kangaroos Rugby League Jersey