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EU Launches Legal Action Against Hungary, Poland, Czechs Over Refugees

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EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos (file photo)

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission launched a legal action on June 13 against the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland for refusing to take in their share of refugees under an EU-wide solidarity plan.

The bloc in 2015 agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees, mainly from Italy and Greece, across its member states -- a legally-binding decision that was met with resistance by several countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Poland and Hungary have not yet taken in a single refugee while the Czech Republic accepted 12 refugees last year but announced earlier this month that it would withdraw from the scheme, citing security concerns.

The relocation scheme remains widely unpopular among the public in all three countries.

"I regret to say that despite our repeated calls, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have not yet taken the necessary action," EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a news briefing in Strasbourg.

"For this reason the (European) Commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three member states," Avramopoulos said.

The infringement procedures are likely to pave the way for several months of legal disputes before any possible monetary sanctions are imposed.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka immediately rejected the Commission's move.

"The European Commission blindly insists on pushing ahead with disfunctional quotas which decreased citizens' trust in EU abilities and pushed back working on conceptual solutions to the migration crisis," Sobotka said in an emailed statement.

Separately, both Hungary and Slovakia have challenged the relocation mechanism in the EU's top court where a first opinion on the matter will be presented next month.

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