Germany says the enforcement of a plan to share the burden of refugees among the member states of the European Union may need legal action “if there is no other way.”
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in remarks published on Saturday that some EU member states have been reluctant to shoulder the burden.
The EU may resort to judicial proceedings, the German minister said, to enforce the quotas which the union members agreed upon in September.
“If there is no other way, the issue will have to be resolved by legal action,” Steinmeier told the Der Spiegel magazine.
“Europe is a community of law,” the minister added.
Some central and eastern member states of the EU, including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, are against the mandatory refugee quotas, saying the relocation of refugees in the countries could expose the countries to huge security and economic risks.
The EU states have agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy, two front nations that have borne the brunt of an unprecedented flow of refugees over the past few months.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday that nearly 991,000 refugees, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, have arrived in Europe by land and sea so far this year, adding that the number could reach one million in the coming days.
The report by Spiegel said comments by Steinmeier raises the possibility of pursuing an infringement case with the European Commission or the European Court of Justice.
Steinmeier specifically warned Poland, one of the main opponents of the quotas scheme, not to jeopardize its relationship with Germany and other EU states, saying Warsaw’s opposition to the quotas could hurt the “trust” that has been built over the years.
Steinmeier said the countries that refuse to welcome refugees “must know what is at stake for them: open borders in Europe.”
“European solidarity is not a one-way street.”