17:29 GMT11 May 2021
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    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (162)
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    The European Commission has no right to punish the member states of the European Union for refusal to accept refugees under the EU mandatory relocation scheme, Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said after the meeting of the Visegrad group in Warsaw on Monday.

    WARSAW (Sputnik) — Last month, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the European Commission could launch infringement procedures against Hungary and Poland, the members of the Visegrad group alongside the Czech Republic and Slovakia, if the states did not start relocating refugees from other EU countries. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo responded by saying that Warsaw was unable to accept refugees and would not agree with its refugee quota.

    "We have an understanding that the European Commission threatens us, but we stand united. We think that the European Commission does not have a right to do that. We think that the claims on punishment of the Visegrad group are unjustified. We think that the policy of security is part of our national policy," the Polish minister said.

    According to Blaszczak, the relocation scheme is not working as the member states were obligated to host 160,000 refugees, but only 20,000 of them have been relocated since May 2016.

    The Polish interior minister urged the European Union to review the policy on migrants, calling for providing help to the vulnerable people outside of the bloc instead of their relocation to the bloc's countries.

    "We presented our joint [the Visegrad Group’s] statement. We think that the issue of relocation should be discussed and the decision on it should be made by the European Council [highest level] and not by the Council of the European Union [ministerial level]," Blaszczak said.

    The mandatory EU scheme was established in 2015 and is aimed at relocating some refugees currently held in Greece and Italy throughout the bloc with a specific quota for each member state. Poland was expected to accept some 7,000 refugees under the scheme.

    On May 16, the European Commission issued a progress report on relocation and resettlement, stressing that some countries, in particular, Hungary, Poland and Austria were the only EU members that had not relocated a single person, while the Czech Republic remained inactive for a year.

    The European Union has been struggling to manage a massive refugee crisis which escalated in 2015 with hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East and North Africa seeking asylum in EU member states.

    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (162)


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    refugees, Visegrad Group (V4) countries, European Commission, Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland
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