Poland will not bend to pressure from the European Union to take in migrants under a mandatory quota programme, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Thursday. Speaking to public broadcaster Polish Radio 3, Waszczykowski voiced his negative opinion of a decision by the European Court of Justice, which on Wednesday dismissed a Poland-backed legal challenge from Hungary and Slovakia over EU migrant quotas.
He said that Poland would seek to defend its position before an EU court “if needed.”
He argued that even the so-called old EU member states were not carrying out the relocation policy backed by the European Commission.
“So far, only about 20 percent of the planned relocations have been carried out,” Waszczykowski told the public radio broadcaster, adding that “a growing number of EU countries” were having second thoughts about the quota programme.
Waszykowski also argued that some countries that have adopted the mandatory quotas have become dissatisfied with them.
The Polish foreign ministry has issued a statement after judges at the European Court of Justice on Wednesday dismissed Slovakia and Hungary’s complaints about mandatory quotas – complaints that were supported by Poland.
‘Poland stands by its position’
The Polish foreign ministry said that “Poland stands by its position that the provisional relocation mechanism which was adopted under the decision of September 2015 does not solve the EU’s migration problems.”
The ministry also said that “Poland supported the actions of Slovakia and Hungary” in bringing proceedings before the European Court of Justice.
“Poland emphasises that the judgment could make it difficult for the member states to achieve a comprehensive migration policy solution that would be based on a genuine compromise between the partners,” the ministry added.
In September 2015, EU leaders agreed that each country would accept a number of migrants over two years to alleviate the pressure on Greece and Italy, which have seen the arrival of tens of thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa.
EU leaders agreed to relocate a total of about 160,000 migrants of more than 2 million people who arrived in Europe since 2015.
Poland and Hungary have not accepted any refugees as part of the EU programme to relocate migrants fleeing the war-torn Middle East and Africa from camps in Italy and Greece, while the Czech Republic has taken no action in nearly a year.
The conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government in Warsaw has said that migrants pose a security threat.
In late August, the Polish foreign ministry said that Poland did not agree with the logic of relocation decisions made in September 2015, but that it would continue to provide support in other areas, including by helping to protect the EU’s external borders and by strengthening its humanitarian commitment.
The European Commission on Wednesday threatened legal action against EU member states including Poland that refuse to accept the bloc’s quota system.