The European Union’s executive will sue Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in the bloc’s top court for their refusal to host asylum-seekers.
The three member states will be taken to the European Court of Justice in the latest in a long-running battle between Brussels and its eastern capitals over a controversial relocation system for mainly Syrian refugees introduced in 2015.
Relocation involves the housing of refugees already in one EU member state to another. The temporary system was introduced to help the bloc share out 120,000 refugees who had settled mainly in Greece and Italy in the summer of 2015. The decision was forced through despite the objections of four member states.
Since the quotas were introduced in 2015, Hungary has not taken any action to relocate or pledge the relocation of refugees, Poland has failed to do so since December 2015, while the Czech Republic has not relocated anyone since last August. The countries have declined to shelter asylum-seekers despite an overall drop in arrivals due to tighter borders and projects beyond the EU’s frontiers to discourage migration to Europe.
They say the mainly-Muslim refugees have no place in their homogeneous, predominantly Christian societies and cite security concerns given attacks by Islamist militants in Europe. Their reluctance to help host migrants from Africa and the Middle East who came to Europe mainly in 2015 has opened a rift with many other European governments.
“The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland remain in breach of their legal obligations”, said the European Commission. “The replies received were again found not satisfactory and three countries have given no indication that they will contribute to the implementation of the relocation decision”.
Earlier last year in September, the ECJ dismissed a complaint from Hungary and Slovakia that the quota system was illegal. Around 32,000 people have been relocated so far.