Italy has urged the EU to cut funds of Eastern European states that refuse to take in their “fair share” of refugees.
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and other ex-communist states are staunchly opposed to the EU’s relocation quotas for the refugees and have stated that asylum seekers, especially Muslims, would upset the homogeneity in their society.
Earlier this month, an overwhelming majority — 98 percent — of Hungarians voted against any future plans to accept EU quotas in a referendum. Although the referendum failed to meet quorum, Budapest hopes to record the result in the country’s constitution.
The Slovakian government has demanded the EU drop its relocation plan and work on a better solution to the refugee crisis. It has also vowed to reject any mandatory refugee quota the EU imposes on them.
The Eastern states have even refused to pay penalty for preventing refugees from entering their countries.
Their unwillingness to share the burden has raised the ire of several politicians, especially Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who lashed out with an ultimatum.
Ahead of the EU’s Oct. 21 summit meeting, Renzi urged the parliament to take “tough” measures against the Balkan countries, who take in a huge portion of the 1 trillion euro EU budget, yet reject the quota scheme.
“It's necessary that Italy be the promoter of a very tough position toward those countries that have received a lot of money for belonging to the bloc to relaunch their territories, and who are shirking their commitments to relocate immigrants,” said Renzi and requested their funding be cut.
He also said he will be taking the issue at the EU summit.
Now that the Balkan countries have closed off their borders against migrants entering from Greece, Italy is bearing the brunt of refugees, especially from Africa. The country is currently hosting 160,000 asylum seekers out of over 460,000 refugees who have entered it since 2014.
Out of the 39,600 people due to be relocated from Italy, only 1,300 have been moved, according to the European Commission.
With EU’s next budget due to be announced at the end of the year, Renzi has stated, “The positive aspects of belonging to the EU must be balanced by the duties that come with membership.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Eduardo Munoz