The commissioner for the European Union’s “Common Immigration and Asylum Policy” said the bloc can force member states to accept refugees, the Associated Press reports.
The commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said that the bloc has the “tools, the means and the power,” to force member states to comply. Avramopoulos’s comments came during a visit to Poland, which has opposed EU efforts to resettle refugees. Poland argues that many of the refugees in Europe came to improve their economic prospects, rather than fleeing a dangerous war-zone.
Avramopoulos’s comments are the latest in a series of threats by EU officials to countries that refuse to accept refugees or challenge the EU’s quotas. “The Commission might start infraction procedures” against resistant nations, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans declared in early February. He expressed his hope that “peer pressure” would force countries to comply.
Hungary, another member state, sued the bloc in December, 2015, saying mandatory resettlement quotas would affect the country’s internal security. The resettlement quotas allocate refugees across the EU based on the population of each country. Hungary voted against the measure in the EU parliament, along with several Eastern European countries.
Refugee resettlement is a major point of contention between countries in the bloc, and was a central issue in the July, 2016, Brexit referendum. “We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders,” one infamous campaign poster declared.
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