Photo: © European Union 2013 - European Parliament. (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons license)

EU votes to sanction Poland as it struggles with 1.5m refugees

The European Parliament has voted to put economic sanctions on Poland as the country struggles to accommodate 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees.

Poland – one of the EU’s poorest countries – has accepted 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees in two weeks since the Russian invasion began.

 

This has caused enormous internal problems within the country.

For scale, when adjusted for population size, this would be the equivalent of Ireland taking more than 180,000 refugees virtually overnight.

Artem Zozulia is the president of the Ukraine Foundation, one of Poland’s biggest migrant NGOs.

“We have all the plans to respond [to a refugee crisis] but none of the money,” he said last week.

“I don’t see any money right now.”

As Poland reels from this influx of new arrivals, struggling financially to accommodate them, the European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to put economic sanctions on both Hungary and Poland. 478 MEPs voted in favour, and only 155 voted against.

The parliament declared that it was now “high time” for the European Commission to “react to the ongoing violations of the rule of law in some EU member states, which pose a danger to the European Union’s financial interests.”

The EU will deprive Poland and Hungary of billions of euros in funds, claiming that they have seized political control over the media and judiciary.

Poland and Hungary have been engaged in a bitter row with the EU for several years over allegations that the two countries are infringing on freedom of the courts and the rule of law.

Poland and Hungary have denied the accusations, accusing the EU in return of blackmailing their countries, and saying some EU resolutions are incompatible with their constitutions and they are merely attempting to implement judicial reforms.

 

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