The European Union has launched a formal “infringement procedure” against three of its member nations—the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland—for failing to comply with a 2015 agreement to harbor asylum-seekers. The procedure allows the EU to take legal action against the nations, which could ultimately result in financial penalties imposed by the Court of Justice. At the end of the process—which could take several months, or even years, depending on the court’s deliberations—nations are expected to comply with the court’s mandates.
In the past, the EU has made numerous requests for member nations to relieve Italy and Greece of their large numbers of refugees, most of whom are escaping violence in Syria, North Africa, or other parts of the Middle East. In September 2015, EU nations narrowly voted to house 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy, with Germany and France taking in the most significant shares. Together, nine central and eastern European countries were asked to shelter a total of 15,000 refugees. Although four nations—the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania—voted against the agreement, they are still expected to adhere to the refugee quota. Both Hungary and Slovakia are currently challenging the decision in a top EU court.