EU Opens Legal Case Against Three Countries Over Migration
The European Commission launched a legal case on Tuesday (June 13) against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for refusing to take in asylum-seekers, ratcheting up a bitter feud within the 28-nation bloc about how to deal with migration.
The eurosceptic, nationalist-minded governments in Poland and Hungary have refused to take in anyone under a plan agreed by a majority of EU leaders in 2015 to relocate migrants from front-line states Italy and Greece to help ease their burden.
"The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have not yet taken the necessary action. For this reason, the Commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three member states. We have to be fair towards those member states that do fulfill their obligations," European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulous said.
The Czech Republic, another ex-communist central European state, initially accepted 12 people but has since said it would not welcome more.
The 'infringement procedure' is a way for the EU's executive to take to task countries that fail to meet their obligations. It opens the way for months, even years, of legal wrangling before a top EU court could potentially impose financial penalties.
The easterners vindicate their stance on asylum seekers by citing security concerns, noting a series of militant Islamist attacks in western Europe since late 2015. The bulk of refugees come from the mainly Muslim Middle East and North Africa. They also hope their resistance to pressure from Brussels will earn them credit with eurosceptic voters at home.
Many other EU states have also dragged their feet over taking in refugees, with fewer than 21,000 people relocated from Italy and Greece so far under a plan that had been due to cover 160,000 people.