Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Letting these countries in was a mistake

Posted by hkarner - 15. Juni 2017

Date: 14-06-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Subject: EU Raises Stakes Over Refusal to Take Asylum Seekers

European Commission launches legal proceedings against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic

BRUSSELS—The European Union’s executive launched legal proceedings against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for refusing to take in asylum seekers, reigniting a fight that is likely to widen as the bloc seeks unity in Brexit negotiations with the U.K.

A majority of EU states voted in 2015 to distribute around the bloc up to 160,000 asylum seekers who had arrived in Italy and Greece, infuriating many in Central Europe who saw it as an unfair imposition from Brussels.

By mid-June, near the planned two-year end date of the program, just 20,869 people were relocated.

“When it comes to relocation, let me be crystal clear: [it] is a legal obligation, not a choice,” said EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in announcing the European Commission’s decision.
The former communist countries that joined the EU about a decade ago have almost no experience integrating Muslim populations. Poland and Hungary refused to take any asylum seekers, while the Czech Republic took 12 last year. It recently announced it would quit the program.

Legal proceedings against member states can end up in EU’s top court and bring financial penalties unless the countries reverse course.

The British vote last year to leave the EU has brought vows of unity from other counties, but the dispute exposes cracks that the bloc has sought to paper over in the last year.

The commission’s decision comes on top of existing disputes with Hungary and Poland over what critics say are efforts to erode democratic rights in the two countries. EU officials have acknowledged the U.K. might use such divisions to drive a wedge in the bloc and seek a better deal.

Austria said earlier this year it would drop out of the program, but EU commission officials say the Austrian government promised to take 50 minors from Italy. The move kept Austria off the sanctions list.

None of the three countries have indicated they would change their minds. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka tweeted after the commission’s announcement that “quotas are not working, they incentivize further illegal migration and have lowered citizens’ confidence in the EU.”

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has warned that refusing to admit refugees, might result in Central and Eastern European states receiving less financial support. “Those who want to benefit from solidarity, such as in the form of EU cohesion funds, must be prepared to show solidarity,” Mr. Juncker said in Prague last week.

His threat echoed demands made by countries that are net payers into the EU budget, such as the Netherlands and Austria, which have already threatened to pay less money for poorer EU states that refuse to take refugees.

Discussions on the EU budget for the years after Brexit, due to start next year, are likely to pit net payers against net beneficiaries, especially given the gap created by the departure of the U.K., the EU’s second-largest contributor.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said that the threat of funding cuts amounted to “blackmail” and questioned the legality of such a move. “We will keep on defending our principles,” he said.

On Monday, interior ministers of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic met  in Warsaw and said the issue of relocation should be handled by EU national leaders, not the commission, and that decisions should be taken by unanimity, not majority voting.

“The announcement to punish [our] countries is groundless,” Polish interior minister Mariusz Blaszczak said after the meeting. “Security policy is a national, not a European” responsibility.

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