Rome, Sep 8 (IANS/AKI) European Union countries that refuse to shelter their allotted share of asylum-seekers should see cuts to their funding from the 28-member bloc, Italy’s ruling centre-left Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi said on Thursday.
“As I see it, the countries that do not take people in should be punished in a very simple way: You don’t show solidarity in the management of migration? Then you don’t get solidarity in the allocation of funding,” Renzi wrote in his e-newsletter.
“They want to build walls. Let them do it without Italian money, given that our country puts 20 billion euros into the EU annually and gets back 12,” he said.
“This isn’t blackmail, it’s called social justice, solidarity. This is what’s Europe is about.”
Renzi’s comments came after the EU’s top court on Wednesday rejected a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia to relocation quotas approved at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.
European leaders agreed in September 2015 to relocate a total of 160,000 migrants “in clear need of international protection” from Italy and Greece to other EU countries over two years.
So far less than 28,000 people have been relocated in the face of opposition from several Eastern European countries notably Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Romania also voted against the quota scheme, which was approved by a majority vote.
At the latest count, just 8,451 asylum-seekers have been relocated from Italy, where over 600,000 migrants and refugees have arrived by boat from North Africa since 2014.
If Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic refuse to cooperate with the relocation scheme, they could be referred to the European Court of Justice and face heavy fines.
Hungary, which has built a controversial fence on it southern border with Serbia and Croatia, has vowed to use all legal means against the ECJ judgement, which is final and cannot be appealed.