Shares

Hungary and Poland have explicitly opposed the EU plan that pressures them to taking in their share of the (committed) 160,000 Syrian, Eritrean and Iraqi asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. Now they risk sanctions, for the European Commission yesterday presented a deadline, already set in June.

The Commission wants Poland and Hungary to take action immediately, as the EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters in Strasbourg:

“I call on Poland and Hungary who have not relocated a single person… to start doing so right now. (…) If no action is taken by them before our next report in June, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the treaties and to open infringement procedures.”

Hungary and Poland can face stiff financial penalties if they fail to comply. The European Union had recently suggested that countries should be asked to accept a quota of refugees, or pay €250,000 for each asylum-seeker they turn away. Replying to the threat, the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło was defiant, saying:

“I am not afraid of these thundering pronouncements by the Commission (…) we will not agree to the imposition of Poland or any other EU country obligatory quotas.”

More than one million migrants entered Italy and Greece from 2015 onwards, and the refugee relocations are very far off target, the European Commission admits.

Poland and Hungary are the two countries who were presented deadline. But, Austria, for instance, has pledged to relocate 50 (!) people from Italy. The Commission welcomed the move and urged Vienna to do the same from Greece, demonstrating their desperation. Other countries, like Bulgaria and Slovakia, have been asked to show more flexibility, and also Spain, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Romania, France and Cyprus were asked to raise the numbers they take in.