Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

Poland vows legal battle on migrant quotas

  • Warsaw: 51% of Poles would rather quit the EU than take in Muslim asylum seekers (Photo: Kamil Porembinski)

Poland has vowed to fight the EU in court over migrant relocation quotas, while accusing the European Commission of creating a security risk.

“Poland has sent a motion to the European Commission requesting it to discontinue its ongoing infringement procedure. Should it be continued, Poland is prepared to argue its case before the Court of Justice of the European Union”, the Polish foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday (23 August).

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  • Timmermans has threatened fines and sanctions (Photo: European Commission)

It said the Commission had “unfortunately” mixed up the migrant issue with other complaints of a “political nature” on the rule of law in Poland.

It also accused Commission vice president Frans Timmermans of political meddling.

“Timmermans has demonstrated political intervention in Poland’s internal affairs, taking a position similar to that of the opposition,” the foreign ministry said.

The rebuke came after the Commission launched legal action against Poland for its refusal to take asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) boycotted EU migrant quotas after winning power in 2015, even though Poland had bound itself to take 6,182 people from the EU states on the front line of the migration crisis.

Law and Justice has said Muslim asylum seekers were a terrorist threat.

The Polish interior minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, said on Wednesday that the Commission’s migration policies increased that threat.

“Paris, Stockholm, Brussels, Berlin, Manchester, Barcelona: How many more European cities have to be hit by terrorists so that the European Union wakes up? So the European Commission acknowledges that accepting blindly all those who come to the European shores is akin to putting a noose around Europe's neck?”, the minister’s statement said.

The Commission’s “infringement proceedings” on migrant quotas could see Poland fined for non-compliance.

But the Polish public stands behind the government’s hardline stance.

Fifty seven percent of Poles would be happy to lose EU funds in return for keeping out Muslim migrants, while 51 percent would rather leave the EU than comply with the quotas, the IBRiS pollster said in July.

The Commission has also launched action against the Czech Republic and Hungary over the same issue amid a wider boycott in Central Europe.

France and Germany have taken in the most people, but they still fell 36,000 places short of their quotas as the EU deadline approached in September.

The Commission’s separate complaint on the rule of law in Poland came after Law and Justice seized control of Polish courts and judges.

That procedure could end in Poland’s vote in the Council of the EU being suspended, in what would be an unprecedented event in EU history.

Nato visit

Poland’s political disputes with the EU come amid geopolitical tension in the region.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg will visit Poland on Thursday and Friday to inspect a rapid reaction force sent to the Polish border to deter Russian aggression.

The Nato force contains about 1,000 US, British, and Romanian soldiers as well as US armour, with similar Nato battalions posted to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Russia and Belarus will on 14 September conduct a large scale military drill called Zapad 2017 in the Baltic region.

It is said to involve 12,700 soldiers, but Lithuania and other Western analysts predict that it will involve more 100,000, in what what would be the biggest exercise of its kind since the end of the Cold War.

Opinion

Migrant relocation ruling raises questions

The recent EU court decision to refute Hungary and Slovakia's objections to the EU relocation scheme raises a number of important questions.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

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