Right-wing government holding ground after reversing commitment to resettle thousands of migrants
Poland’s former Prime Minister has claimed the country “cannot accept refugees” as the EU threatens legal action against nations failing to comply with quotas.
Alongside Hungary and Austria, it is one of only three countries not to have relocated a single refugee, “in breach of their legal obligations” and commitments.
“This cannot be the responsibility of just a few member states – this must be shared be all,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for migration.
But Prime Minister Beata Szydło told a press conference there had been no formal agreement to compulsory quotas, which Hungary and Poland voted against.
“A critical attitude towards the mechanism of migrant relocation is becoming increasingly widespread in the European Union,” she claimed, according to a translation by state broadcaster Poland Radio.
“Poland cannot accept refugees.”
Austria has finally pledged to accept eligible asylum seekers from Italy, but the EU has warned Poland and Hungary that they have until June to start accepting refugees or face sanctions.
“I call on Poland and Hungary who have not relocated a single person … to start doing so right now,” Mr Avramopoulos told reporters.
“If no action is taken by them before the next report in June, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the treaties and to open infringement procedures.”
In September 2015, EU states committed to relocating up to 160,000 refugees from overcrowded camps in Greece and Italy countries within two years – later lowering the target – but the total is on track to hit less than 40,000 by its deadline.
But fewer than 18,500 people have been resettled so far and while Poland has been assigned 6,200 refugees, none have been admitted.