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EU takes Czechs, Hungary, Poland to court over refugees

By Lorne Cook Associated Press 

BRUSSELS — The European Union announced Thursday that it is taking the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to court for failing to accommodate their fair share of refugees under a plan agreed to by the 28-country bloc two years ago.

EU nations agreed in September 2015 to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece as the countries buckled under the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants that year.

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Under the plan, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic were supposed to take in a combined 10,000 people.

But Hungary and Poland have taken none at all, while the Czech Republic has accepted 12.

The EU’s executive commission sought reasons why but was given no satisfactory explanations.

The commission said Thursday that the three ‘‘remain in breach of their legal obligations’’ and ‘‘have given no indication that they will contribute to the implementation of the relocation decision.’’

Their cases are being referred to Europe’s top tribunal, the Court of Justice.

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The refugee relocation plan was adopted in a legally binding vote by a majority of European Union member states, but not the three that are refusing to take part.

The plan never worked well. As of last week, only around 32,000 refugees had been relocated.

The dispute has highlighted the deep divisions among Europeans about how best to handle the migrant wave, which saw more than one million people enter Europe in 2015, most of them from Turkey to the Greek islands and across the Mediterranean to Italy.

It has also undermined trust among EU partners.