Brussels reportedly set to pounce on Visegrad’s migrant stance

By bne IntelliNews June 12, 2017

The European Commission is set to launch infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland on June 13 over their refusal to take part in the EU’s migrant quota scheme, according to media reports.

The European Commission will agree at a regular meeting to send letters of formal notice to Prague, Budapest and Warsaw, unnamed diplomatic sources said, according to Reuters. The letters are the first step in an infringement procedure against the states for failing to meet legal obligations.

The action follows swiftly on warnings issued by the commission last week. Such surefootedness is at odds with the bloc’s modus operandi over the past couple of years, and extends the evidence that confidence in Brussels has been boosted by the French and Dutch election defeats for far-right, Eurosceptic populists.

That suggests the likes of the governments of Hungary and Poland face a far rougher ride over accusations that they are abusing the rule of law and democracy, and failing to accept the responsibilities of EU membership.

With an election upcoming in October, Prague said earlier this month that it would not accept any more refugees under the programme, which was pushed through the European Counci. in 2015 and seeks to distribute 160,000 refugees that are currently in frontline states such as Greece and Italy.

The move is at odds with comments made by European Commission president in Prague on June 9. Appearing at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Jean-Claude Juncker praised the Czech Republic for taking on the responsibilities that come with EU membership.

Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have all refused to take any refugees. Hungary and Slovakia have both lodged cases against the quotas with the European Court of Justice. The Czech Republic, which has for the past few years sought to play the model member state when compared with its regional peers, is reported to have accepted a dozen of the 2,600 refugees it is required to host.

EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos warned in early June that action against states that refuse to accept their responsibilities could be announced very soon. That put the spotlight squarely on Visegrad.

A commission spokesperson refused to comment on the claims that the probes will be launched on June 13. It is unclear why Slovakia will not face an infringement procedure alongside its regional peers. The country, which is the only member of the Eurozone amongst the four, is reported to have settled 16 of the 2,300 refugees it is due to accept under the programme. Bratislava’s case in the ECJ concentrates on procedural issues regarding the 2015 vote.

 

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