Czech Republic sticking to its guns on migrant quotas in face of EC lawsuit

Illustrative photo: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The European Commission has announced it is suing the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary in the bloc’s top court for their refusal to take in asylum seekers in line with the Commission’s mandatory re-distribution mechanism. Prague says it will not change its stand and warns that a court case will only further undermine public trust in EU institutions.

Illustrative photo: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The European Commission announced its decision on Thursday saying it had waited in vain for a show of solidarity from the three states in question. The EC’s deputy chair Frans Timmermans :

“There can be no free-rider solution in this. If there is a serious crisis in any member state then that member state should be able to count on the solidarity of every single member state of the European Union.”

The decision to take the country to court came as no surprise to Prague and the country’s newly appointed prime minister, Andrej Babiš, had a ready response. At a press briefing in Prague he said that even in the face of a lawsuit, the country would not accept its quota of migrants.

“We have a different view on this matter. We do not have the same asylum policy as other EU member states. Our public feels strongly about who should be allowed to settle in the country and if the EC fails to respect this, then I fear that it will only boost those forces who want to see the EU fall apart and that would be a pity.”

Andrej Babiš,  photo: CTK
Prime Minister Babiš said he would talk to the EC commissioner for migration at the EU summit in Brussels next week to explain his country’s position and try to negotiate the lawsuit’s withdrawal. Babiš has criticized the outgoing Interior Minister Milan Chovanec for not being more active in this respect and for not taking the initiative and presenting alternative solutions in Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Czech political scene remains united in rejecting migrant quotas, although the Mayors and Independents and the Pirates Party say the country should have followed Slovakia’s example by taking in a small number of thoroughly- screened migrants, in order to avoid a lawsuit.

The centre-right Civic Democrats say the country should stick by its guns. The party’s deputy chair Martin Kupka:

“The quota mechanism is not functional, it is nonsensical and the Czech Republic was right to reject it.”

Tomio Okamura,  photo: Filip Jandourek
Meanwhile, as Prime Minister Andrej Babiš predicted, the SPD lost no time in attacking the EU over the lawsuit. Its leader Tomio Okamura told Czech Television this was just another signal that the Czech Republic was no longer a sovereign country.

“This is a brutal dictate that clearly shows we are no longer a sovereign country, but a country ruled by foreigners who want to decide on our behalf who should live in our country.”

Since the relocation process started the Czech Republic has only taken in 12 migrants, Poland and Hungary have not admitted any.