EU takes Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic to court over failure to meet refugee quotas

7 December 2017, 13:34

The European Union is taking three of its member states to court for failing to accommodate their fair share of 160,000 refugees.

EU nations agreed in September 2015 to help relocate the migrants from Italy and Greece and under the plan Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were supposed to take in a combined 10,000 migrants.

However, Hungary and Poland took none in at all, while the Czech Republic accepted just 12 refugees.

The European Commission said on Thursday that the three states were in breach of their "legal obligations" and that they had given "no indication that they will contribute to the implementation of the relocation decision".

Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic had given no satisfactory explanations as to why they had failed to take in more refugees, it added.

European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans said: "Going to court is always the instrument of last resort. That's not what we want.

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

Newly appointed Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has moved to stop the cases being referred to the European Court of Justice, telling local news agency CTK that he wanted to negotiate further with the EU.

He added that the system agreed two years ago was "nonsense" and only served to support the rising popularity of the continent's extremist parties.

His stance is likely to provoke further anger among other EU members who believe the three post-communist countries have failed to show sufficient solidarity with their peers and have threatened retribution, including siphoning away some of the funds the EU contributes to their development.

Should Mr Babis' bid for further negotiation prove unsuccessful, the European Commission's latest move will mark the second time the eastern states have been taken to court over the dispute, having already lost one case at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

However, as the level of migration has fallen sharply since the peak of the crisis, EU states are set to consider a compromise on the each member's commitments by mid-2018.