Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Brussels to sue Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic over asylum seekers

Brussels to sue Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic over asylum seekers

The European Commission has sued Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for failure to fulfil agreed with the European Union (EU) national quotas on the admission of migrants.

In response to the migration crisis in 2015, the European Union adopted a decision to relocate asylum seekers who arrived in Italy and Greece, which were dealing with a massive inflow of migrants.

But Hungary and Poland have taken none at all, while the Czech Republic has accepted 12.

Brussels launched so-called infringement proceedings against the three countries in June for failing to take in any refugees under the quota system, and warned them last month of further action.

The EU's "relocation" scheme is now wrapping up having moved 32,000 out of an originally planned total of 160,000, but it caused bad blood when it was forced through two years ago despite the objections of some countries.

"Going to court is always the instrument of last resort".

There are still a few thousand eligible applicants in Italy and Greece waiting to be relocated, Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the Commission, disclosed Thursday at a press conference at the Commission headquarter.

"We hope we still find a way out through an act of participation by these three countries".

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The dispute has highlighted the deep divisions among Europeans over how best to handle the migrant wave, which saw more than one million people enter Europe in 2015, mostly from Turkey to the Greek islands and across the Mediterranean to Italy.

But Poland is intransigent, with foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski saying the government is not changing its policy on migrants.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told the BBC he opposed the relocation plan and that it fueled anti-migrant sentiment in the country.

"The Council Decisions require Member States to pledge available places for relocation every three months to ensure a swift and orderly relocation procedure", said the press release.

On the Hungarian asylum law, a response from Budapest to a letter from the Commission was "found to be unsatisfactory as it failed to address the majority of the concerns", the Commission said in a statement.

Earlier this year Soros accused the Orban government of building a "mafia state" in Hungary.

In June, Hungary approved a law aimed at forcing civil society groups receiving more than 24,000 euros ($26,000) annually in overseas funding to register as a "foreign-supported organisation", or face closure.

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