Robert Harneis -TDO- (FRANCE) The European Commission has sent letters of formal notice to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, representing the first legal step in infringement proceedings for refusing to accept migrant quotas. The Commission is keen to make an example out of countries that refuse to cooperate on the issue, as it tries to redistribute tens of thousands of migrants from Greece and Italy.
Hungary’s Victor Orban hit back yesterday, telling his Parliament that as long as his party remained in power, they would not be accepting any migrants at all. The country recently started its own proceedings, along with Slovakia, against the EU, on the same matter – stating that: “The decision to assign quotas sends the wrong signal to potential migrants: ‘Go ahead and come to Europe, we will handle the distribution.’” He added “Secondly, it’s not effective. These people want to go to very specific countries, not countries like Romania, Bulgaria or Hungary. Those who were sent to Latvia were back in Germany in just two days.”
Similarly, Poland’s Prime Minister has said her country will not be accepting any migrant quotas and has argued there is no treaty obligation which requires them to do so. Austria is also extremely reluctant to take in any illegal immigrants.
EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters in Strasbourg on this week that all three states had neglected their legal obligations to take in asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.
In May Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters on Tuesday (16 May) in Strasbourg that a handful of member states have yet to take in any pre-screened and vetted asylum seekers under a legally-binding policy agreed almost two years ago.
"If no action is taken by them before the next report in June, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its power under the Treaties and to open infringement procedures," he said.
Avramopoulos said it was a question of "political and institutional credibility for the European Union" to take action if nothing is done.
The difficulty for the EU is that for the governments concerned, it is their own political and institutional credibility that is at stake.
It is a no win situation for the EU. If the Commission manages to bully, browbeat and bribe the three small states into submission, the bitterness in those countries will be extreme. They did not escape imprisonment under the Soviet Union to exchange it for a bureaucratic version under the European Commission. If they fail, EU credibility will be further degraded and the reaction of the Italian and Greek governments, with illegal immigrants arriving daily, will be drastic. It will be difficult for a typical EU compromise to smooth over such a straight forward and basic disagreement.