The Latest: Poland reacts to EU legal action over refugees
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on migrants and asylum-seekers in Europe (all times local):
The Polish government spokesman says that Warsaw respects but does not agree with the decision of the European Commission to launch legal actions against Poland and two other countries that have refused to accept refugees as part of a European Union resettlement plan.
The European Commission said Tuesday that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have breached their legal obligations to take some refugees as part of the 2015 plan, which is aimed at sharing the burden of 160,000 migrants at camps in Italy and Greece.
Rafal Bochenek, spokesman for the conservative government of Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, said the Polish leadership does not agree with the Commission’s decision. He said it has been saying from the very beginning that the forced relocation of people is not a good solution to the migration crisis.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says his country is not ready to change its view of a European Union migrant sharing plan, following an announcement that the EU is launching legal action against the Czech Republic and two other countries for failing to take in enough refugees.
Sobotka said in a statement on Tuesday: “The Czech Republic doesn’t agree with the relocation system based on migrant quotas. And given the worsened security situation in Europe and also that the quota system is not functioning, it won’t participate in it.”
Sobotka said his government was ready to “consistently defend our view at the EU level and at the relevant court institutions.”
The Czech Republic was supposed to accept some 2,600 refugees until September but so far has taken only 12, all of them from Greece.
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chvanec said last week his country won’t accept any more refugees as part of the EU’s obligatory quotas system.
Sobotka said the quotas system has been very unpopular among the Czech public, and that it has “reduced the trust of the citizens in the EU” and delayed solving the migrant crisis.
The European Commission says it is launching legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to take in refugees under a legally binding sharing plan agreed by the European Union.
The Commission said Tuesday in a statement that it has repeatedly urged the three countries to relocate refugees or at least pledge to do so.
But it said they have not taken action “in breach of their legal obligations,” and that it “has decided to launch infringement procedures” on Wednesday.
The scheme to share 160,000 refugees in overwhelmed Italy and Greece among other European countries over two years was endorsed in September 2015 by a qualified majority vote.
The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have until Wednesday to change their minds.