Czech Gov't says it will not receive any more migrants on basis of EU quotas
The Czech Republic will not be receiving any more migrants from the reception centers in Greece and Italy on the basis of the EU's redistribution quotas because it believes the quota system is dysfunctional and is making that decision on the basis of the deteriorating security situation. Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) announced the news to journalists yesterday after the cabinet session.
Representatives of the opposition agree with the Government's decision. The Czech Interior Ministry will now prepare to defend itself against any eventual proceedings lodged against it by the European Commission over its failure to meet its obligations.
"The Czech Republic will no longer be active in the quota system between now and September, when this one-time mechanism is meant to end," Chovanec said at the press conference. The cabinet has tasked the ministry with completing all of its activities in this area.
Czech MP Jana Černochová (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) believes the decision of the Government is the correct one, although coming as it does just a couple of months before the elections, she accuses the Government of cheap populism, she told the Czech News Agency. The MP recalled that according to ODS, the EU quota system has always been an unwarranted intervention into the rights of sovereign states.
The Government decision has the support of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the Mayors and Independents Movement (STAN), and TOP 09, with the chair of STAN, Petr Gazdík, also calling on the cabinet to attempt to resolve the problem at the highest EU level. "The European Commission, for the time being, has yet to bring forward a meaningful concept," he said.
Chovanec said the Czech Government's move is a response to statements by EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopulos, who for the past few weeks has appealed to Member States to meet their obligations in this matter. Avramopulos has also spoken of the threat of sanctions if states did not comply.
The Czech Republic previously agreed to receive approximately 2 600 people by September, but has only received 12 migrants who were previously living in reception centers in Greece. Since May 2016 the Czech Republic has offered no places through the program, which the EU assumes will redistribute 160 000 persons now in reception centers to other EU countries.
As of 12 May, however, a total of just 18 418 of those people have been relocated, and the European Commission is admitting that the overall target number of relocations will not be upheld. At the end of any eventual proceedings lodged in the matter by the European Commission, the countries concerned could be fined by the European Court of Justice.
The Czech Interior Minister has not wanted to speculate as to the possible amount of the fine, but said experts with his ministry consider it could be tens of millions of euro in basic fines and tens of thousands of euro for each day that the obligations are not met. The EU Member States agreed in September 2015, despite resistance from the Czech Republic and other countries from Central and Eastern Europe, to aid Greece and Italy with the fact that they have been greatly encumbered by the migration crisis.
According to the agreement, the other Member States would receive 120 000 asylum seekers from Eritrea, Iraq and Syria now living in reception centers in those two countries. Along with a previous similar voluntary obligation, a total of 160 000 people were meant to be redistributed over two years.
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