A few days ago, the European Commission urged EU states to accelerate acceptation of Middle Eastern and North African migrants from Italy and Greece in accordance with the quota system, adopted in the autumn of 2015. Brussels threatened that If EU members continue to neglect their duties, they will be expected to face economic sanctions. EU countries from Eastern Europe considered the system of forced resettlement of migrants ineffective solution of the migration crisis and are not going to make any concessions, the Izvestiya newspaper reported, citing the Foreign Ministries of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
According to the newspaper, the countries of Eastern Europe will not change their position and will subsequently refuse to accept migrants in the amount, required by Brussels. They argue that this process should take place on a voluntary basis and take into account capabilities of each country. In this way, the Czech Republic has accepted only twelve refugees from 2,688 appointed people, while Slovakia has given asylum to only nine migrants so far. Hungary completely refused to accept refugees under the quota system and in 2015, brought an action before the EU court along with Slovakia in order to challenge the EU plan for compulsory quotas of migrants’ acceptation.
“Only 13,000 people have been successfully reallocated in EU countries since 2015. We support the idea of ‘flexible solidarity’, which is based on capabilities of each individual state. Slovakia has made a significant contribution to resolving the migration crisis, allocating €11 million for this, as well as providing 364 experts, who are involved in protecting of the EU external borders in those countries that are under strong pressure from migrants. Bratislava believes that the quota system does not work. Bratislava is not going to change its position and is awaiting the court’s decision, which should be made at the end of this year,” press secretary of the Slovak Foreign Ministry, Peter Stano, told Izvestiya.
The countries of Eastern Europe are concerned about the threat to their security due to the lack of reliable information about migrants, arriving from the territory of Greece and Italy. President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman repeatedly said that persons, connected with terrorist organizations, are among migrants. In addition, the Eastern European states are not able to forcibly keep refugees, most of whom are seeking to enter Western Europe.
“Refugees do not pass proper verification in special centers for registration of migrants in Greece and Italy. In this way, the Czech Republic is not sure to whom it provides asylum. Public opinion polls indicate that the most part of Czech residents has a negative attitude towards migrants. Therefore, changes on the issue of refugees in the policy of the ruling parties on the eve of the autumn parliamentary elections should not be expected,” a source in the Czech Foreign Ministry told the newspaper.
Last week, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said that if until September 2017, EU members do not accept on their territory the number of migrants that was appointed by the so-called migrant quota system in the autumn of 2015, sanctions will be applied to them.
Previously, Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, also said the threat of sanctions for countries, boycotting the migrant resettlement system. The both European officials refrained from specifying the punishment, but from their subsequent speeches it became clear that the countries-refuseniks are threatened by a noticeable cutback in funding by the EU. Earlier, Brussels announced an idea to fine EU members for €250,000 for each unaccepted migrant, but very soon this idea was abandoned.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia are not the only EU countries, which do not want to accommodate migrants on their territories. Last week, the European Commission admitted that in a year and a half, only 10% of 160,000 refugees were relocated from Greece and Italy to other countries of the bloc. At the same time, only Malta and Finland fully fulfilled their obligations under the migrant quotas’ scheme, while Hungary, Austria and Poland accepted no one refugee.
According to the law, in case of failure to comply with legal norms by a EU state, the European Commission can apply to the EU court, which has a right to impose economic sanctions against a country, which does not execute its obligations. However, it seems that this fact does not frighten EU members.