Poland vows court battle with EU as voters say they could QUIT BLOC over migrant quotas

Nick Gutteridge — The Express Sept 6, 2017

Migrants and refugees run to a refugee center after crossing the Croatian-Slovenian border near Rigonce on October 24, 2015. Slovenia says it is considering building a border fence to help stem a record influx of migrants and refugees, as thousands more people arrived from Croatia on October 23. AFP PHOTO / JURE MAKOVEC        (Photo credit should read Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images)

Migrants and refugees run to a refugee center after crossing the Croatian-Slovenian border near Rigonce on October 24, 2015. Slovenia says it is considering building a border fence to help stem a record influx of migrants and refugees, as thousands more people arrived from Croatia on October 23. AFP PHOTO / JURE MAKOVEC (Photo credit should read Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images)

Polish ministers confirmed they will fight their corner in court unless eurocrats immediately drop infringement proceedings, enacted last month over the country’s refusal to take in refugees. 

The move marks a further ramping up of rhetoric between the two parties over the issue of migration, with relations deteriorating between Warsaw and Brussels at an alarming rate.

EU officials have notified Poland of their intention to take action over the government’s refusal to accept migrant quotas, with punishments potentially including a hefty fine.

But with the latest opinion polling showing that more than half of Poles would be prepared to quit the bloc altogether if the EU imposes its migration policies, neither side looks likely to back down.

he stand-off with Warsaw is fast approaching crisis point for Brussels, with the pair also locked in a bitter tussle over changes to the Polish judiciary that the EU says threaten the rule of law. 

In a furious statement today the Polish foreign ministry accused eurocrats of mixing up the issue of migrant quotas with its “political” fight against rule of law changes, saying this was “unfortunate”. 

It also accused the EU Commission first vice-president, Dutch official Frans Timmermans, of getting involved in a political crusade against the right-wing government and acting like “the opposition”. 

The statement said: “Poland has sent a motion to the European Commission requesting it to discontinue its ongoing infringement procedure. Should it be continued, Poland is prepared to argue its case before the Court of Justice of the European Union.”

It then added: “Timmermans has demonstrated political intervention in Poland’s internal affairs, taking a position similar to that of the opposition.” 

Hungary and Slovakia – two other countries who have refused to implement the quotas – are already fighting the policy at the ECJ after appealing the EU Council’s decision to implement it. However, the pair look set to lose their case following an opinion published by the Advocate General. 

Mr Timmermans announced the instigation of infringement proceedings against Poland last month and said at the time that he was not ruling out triggering Article 7 as a punishment. 

The measure, never before deployed, is the most severe sanction the bloc can impose save for expulsion and would strip Poland of its voting rights on the EU Council. 

European nations introduced a mandatory migrant quota system in 2015 to help alleviate the pressure on Greece and Italy but Eastern European nations, who were outvoted on its implementation, have always resisted it. 

Polish ministers have inflamed tensions over the issue by directly linking the arrival of refugees with the increased terror threat in Europe to justify their refusal to take part. 

And according to recent polling voters are well on its side, with 57 per cent saying they would be prepared to forgo the billions of pounds a year the country receives in structural funding from Brussels rather than comply. 

The IBRiS survey revealed a further 51 per cent are prepared to take a step further and vote to quit the bloc altogether if the EU forces an allocation of refugees on Poland. 

Some Western European nations, most notably France and Italy, have floated the idea of cutting of funding to nations who have refused to take in migrants saying they are showing a lack of “solidarity”. 

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