The European Union’s (EU) unelected executive branch has given the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland one month to back down and start admitting migrants from the Middle East and North Africa or face legal consequences.
The migrant relocation scheme was forced through the European Parliament in September 2015, regardless as to whether all nations and their populations agreed.
A number of Eastern and Central European countries resisted the plan, and have since challenged the scheme in the courts – arguing they did not vote for it and placing blame for the migrant crisis with the EU and Germany – as the EU threatens sanctions.
“There is still time to change everything and come back to normality,” said EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday 26 July, the EUObserver reports.
He said the Commission had taken the next step in a legal procedure against the three countries. The so-called infringement procedure began last month when the Commission sent letters of formal notice.
“In their reply, none of these member states indicated that they would relocate a number of applicants swiftly to their territory,” Mr. Avramopoulos explained.
The second stage of the procedure is also a letter, called a ‘reasoned opinion’. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have one month to reply.
The decision comes on the same day that an advocate general for the Court of Justice of the European Union said that the forced relocation plan was legal under EU law.
The policy did not need to be agreed on unanimously thanks to a mechanism called ‘qualified majority voting’, which weighs decisions in favour of larger nations such as Germany and France.
Last month, the outspoken prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, said if Brussels tries “to force the relocation programme on us at our next upcoming summit… I’ll exercise my veto.”
In October last year, 95 per cent of Hungarian voters rejected the migrant redistribution plan in a referendum called by Mr. Orbán.
Poland has vowed to follow and also hold a referendum on the issue, and the nation’s interior minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, said in May that taking in 6,000 asylum seekers would “certainly be much worse” for Poland than the threat of EU punishment.
The original intention of the plan was to alleviate the pressure on Italy and Greece by sending 120,000 migrants to various countries in the EU. Less than 20,000 have moved so far.
Hungary and Poland have not taken any migrants; according to figures released by the Commission on Wednesday, Slovakia has accepted just 16, 45 have moved to Romania, and 12 to the Czech Republic.
Relocation picked up slightly in June, when some 2,000 migrants were relocated from Greece and almost 1,000 from Italy.
“Here we are finally starting to see proper solidarity,” the Greek EU commissioner noted, praising Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and “in particular” Sweden, for their relatively high numbers of relocations.
The moves toward prosecution getting underway against The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland comes just days after the political bloc launched separate legal action against Poland for moving forward with long-promised judicial reform. As reported by Breitbart London the European Union had warned the nation would be punished for going through with the reforms the ruling party had been elected on.