EU takes member states to court for failing to meet migrant quotas

By Danielle Haynes  |  Dec. 7, 2017 at 4:05 PM
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Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The European Commission on Thursday announced it is taking the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the European Court of Justice for failing to comply with mandatory quotas for accepting asylum seekers.

The executive body of the European Union accused the three member states of "non-compliance with their legal obligations on relocation."

In 2015, the EU approved a plan in which all member states -- other than Britain, Ireland and Denmark -- had to accept a certain number of migrants after more than 500,000 entered the EU that year. Any country that didn't comply would face a penalty of 0.002 percent of its gross domestic product. The plan involved the relocation of 160,000 people.

In October 2016, Hungarians overwhelmingly voted to reject the mandatory quota, which was 1,294 migrants for the country, though the referendum saw low turnout.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban attempted to pass a constitutional amendment in the National Assembly to block the quota, but failed.

The European Commission said Hungary and Poland have accepted no asylum seekers, and the Czech Republic has accepted 12 of the 2,000 it was required to take.

"Going to court is always the instrument of last resort. That's not what we want," said commission Vice President Frans Timmermans. "We hope we still find a way out through an act of participation by these three countries."

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told the BBC he opposed the relocation plan and that it fueled anti-migrant sentiment in the country. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said Warsaw was "ready to defend its position in court."

The International Organization for Migration said that as of Sunday, 175,329 migrants have arrived in Europe in 2017, down from 387,895 in 2016. In 2015, the IOM estimated more than 1 million people entered Europe, mostly from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq.

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