The European Union warned the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland on Tuesday that they have 24 hours to start taking in refugees under an EU migrant sharing plan or face legal action.
But the three countries immediately rebuffed the threat and appeared ready to go to court.
The European Commission said in a statement that it has repeatedly urged them to relocate refugees or at least pledge to do so under the legally-binding refugee plan agreed two years ago.
The plan to share 160,000 refugees in overwhelmed Italy and Greece among other European countries over two years was endorsed in September 2015 by a qualified majority vote.
But just three months before the September 2017 deadline, fewer than 21,000 people have been relocated. It’s unlikely that even a quarter of the refugees originally foreseen under the plan will be moved by then.
The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the scheme. Hungary and Slovakia had previously launched their own legal action against it.
EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have until Wednesday to change their minds.
But Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said his country is not ready to change its view of the migrant sharing plan.
Sobotka said in a statement that “the Czech Republic doesn’t agree with the relocation system based on migrant quotas. And given the worsened security situation in Europe and also that the quota system is not functioning, it won’t participate in it.”
He said his government was ready to “defend our view at the EU level and at the relevant court institutions.”
The Czech Republic was supposed to accept some 2,600 refugees but so far has taken only 12, all of them from Greece.