• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland



  • Poland seeks no confrontation over the EU scheme of relocating refugees, Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański said on Tuesday. In his view, it is natural that EU member states should occasionally meet with the European Commission (EC) in the Court of Justice.

    The European Commission confirmed on Tuesday that it would launch infringement procedures against Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary over their refusal to participate in the refugee relocation programme.

    Asked by journalists at a press briefing in front of the foreign ministry’s headquarters about the possible ramifications of this decision, Szymański said, “it is perfectly natural that member states should occasionally meet with the EC in the Court of Justice, and there’s nothing extraordinary about it.”

    “This could be the upshot, because we are prepared to enter into this dispute, and Poland has serious reasons for saying that it cannot implement this decision and cannot participate in it,” said the deputy minister.

    Asked whether the government was likely to reconsider its stance on relocation, Mr Szymański said that the government still did not see how it could fulfil the commitments made by EU countries in September 2015. “Just like all the other member states that do not meet these obligations due to objective difficulties,” he observed.

    As the deputy minister for European affairs stressed, “the decision of September 2015 pushed through by the EC has not produced the expected results; its level of implementation among all the member states stands at around 20 percent.” According to Szymański, “essentially, it has helped nobody,” nor has it brought the EU closer to solving the migrant problem.

    What has brought such change is, in the deputy minister’s opinion, the EU-Turkey deal. “Poland not only co-drafted this agreement, but it also strongly supported this model of tackling the migrant crisis.” “We call for concentrating on those instruments and projects that work, and leaving aside the instruments and projects that do not,” said the deputy foreign minister.

    He asserted that Poland was pursuing “its own refugee policy” and “has its own criteria for extending international protection to people who come to Poland from regions at risk.” “This should not be influenced by any political circumstances, especially an unsuccessful and ill-conceived decision of the EC. There are sound reasons for which Poland, following its change of government, came to the conclusion that this decision simply cannot be carried out, even assuming good will,” said Mr Szymański.

    According to Mr Szymański, one of the weaknesses of the relocation decision is “the assumption that each time we are dealing with a refugee.” “This is obviously not the case,” said the deputy minister. “Today we all know very well that the status of the people in Italian and Greek centres, and most certainly of the people who registered about two years ago on the southern EU border, very seldom corresponds to the refugee status,” he noted.

    Mr Szymański was also asked about next steps in the European Commission’s procedure. In his opinion, it is all a matter of “political common sense and choice of the EC.”


    “The choice of a confrontational decision in this case is solely up to the EC. Poland seeks no confrontation,” emphasized Mr Szymański. “If the Commission insists on exchanging legal arguments before the Tribunal, we are naturally ready for this,” he said, adding that such a confrontation would do nothing to improve the situation surrounding the European asylum system. “Rather than helping, this could prolong tensions in the EU, of which there are more than enough over the question at issue,” pointed out the deputy minister.

    On Tuesday, the European Commission decided to call on Warsaw, Prague and Budapest to eliminate their breach. It is the first stage of an EU law infringement procedure which may lead to bringing an action against a country before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

    According to the EC’s most recent report issued in May, Hungary, Poland and Austria did not relocate a single person. As for the Czech Republic, the country suspended its participation in the programme after initially relocating a small number of refugees.

    In September 2015 the EU member states agreed to move 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece, setting a deadline of September 2017. Around 20,000 people, or a little over 12 percent of the agreed number, have been relocated so far.

    The infringement procedure could result in imposing financial penalties on a member state. For this to happen, the EC must complete a procedure consisting of several stages, and the Court of Justice in Luxembourg must deliver its judgement in the case. But the battle is long and the penalties, though heavy, could take several years to materialize.


    Source: PAP

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