THE TIMES – “Germany, France and up to 21 other countries will give an ultimatum to Hungary and Poland this year demanding that they accept their quota of migrants or get out of the EU.
Hungary has led a rebellion against the quotas with a challenge in the EU courts and by pushing for a “cultural counter-revolution” against the centralisation of powers in Brussels.
Poland has ignored the European Commission’s criticism and tried last month to veto Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, from being reappointed president of the European Council.
Both countries have ignored proposals introduced by the EU in 2015 to relocate 160,000 migrants who had arrived in southern EU countries to other member states to ease the impact of the flood of migrants.
The rest of the EU plans to force the issue of unity with the two Eurosceptic countries, both ruled by populist and nationalist governments, this autumn at the height of Brexit negotiations.
“They will have to make a choice: are they in the European system or not? You cannot blackmail the EU, unity has a price,” a senior diplomatic source from one of the six founding member states said.
The European Court of Justice is expected to hold a hearing on the legality of the migrant quotas within weeks with a judgment, expected to support the quotas, likely by the end of year.
“We are confident that the ECJ will confirm validation,” the source said. “Then they must abide by the decision. If they don’t then they will face consequences, both financial and political. No more opt-outs. There is no more ‘one foot in and one foot out’. We are going to be very tough on this.”
Hungary had claimed that the decision to impose the refugees on an unwilling member state was culturally and constitutionally unreasonable. Poland supported the claim after its elections returned a Eurosceptic government in October 2015.
Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, had called for borders to be closed in the summer of 2015 as migration reached its peak. Last year, after holding a referendum on the issue, he promised to change Hungary’s constitution so that its parliament could veto any plans to take in refugees.
The policy has not been a success, with many EU countries, including Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, hiding behind the refusal of Hungary and Poland to delay accepting the quotas.
Figures show that, so far, only 16,000 out of the 160,000 refugees have been relocated, with six months to go before the emergency burden-sharing system expires. Germany, France and Italy want to replace the measures with a permanent system of quotas, enforced with fines and other penalties for countries that ignore them.”