A top European Union legal adviser Eleanor Sharpston says the Czech
Republic, Poland and Hungary have been breaking EU law by refusing to
comply with the EU’s migrant quota scheme.
In a legal opinion issued on Thursday, Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston said the three nations ‘failed to fulfil their obligations under EU law’ by not complying with the ‘provisional and time-limited mechanism for the mandatory relocation’ of people seeking international protection.
The European Commission in 2017 took the three nations to court for their refusal to take in asylum-seekers in line with the EC’s mandatory redistribution mechanism.
Although Mrs Sharpston’s opinion is not legally binding, such recommendations are usually followed by the European Court of Justice.
An amendment to the law on foreigners, in effect as of the beginning of August, has brought a series of changes concerning mainly foreigners from non-EU countries. Among other things, it introduces compulsory integration courses and quotas for economic migration. But, according to migration experts, the law is excessively restrictive.
Czech society has changed dramatically since 1989, and not only
politically. Czechs are living longer and having fewer children, but while
the population is aging it is not declining, thanks to an influx of
immigrants. These are among some of the more striking findings of the Czech
At the time of the Velvet Revolution, the life expectancy for a Czech man was 68, eight years lower than today at 76. In the last year of Communism, a Czech woman could expect to live to 75.5, compared to 82 now.
Seniors now account for nearly 20 percent of the population, up from 13 percent in 1989. Meanwhile, children under the age of 15 make up 16 percent of the population, down from 22 percent three decades ago.
The Czech Republic experienced a baby boom around 2008, when the so-called Husák's children generation of the 1970s, began having children of their own. Even so, the annual birth rate reached a maximum of 120,000. In recent years, it has been around 114,000.
At the time of the Velvet Revolution, there were 3.4 foreigners for every 1,000 Czechs compared to 53 today. Thirty years ago, one in 294 residents were born abroad, compared to one in 19 today.
Czech police last year detained 4,992 foreigners in the country illegally,
254 more than in 2017. As in previous years, Ukrainians comprised the
largest group, according to a Ministry of the Interior report.
Nearly 1,500 Ukrainians were detained by the police in 2018. Large numbers of Moldovans, Vietnamese, Russians and Georgians illegally in the country were also detained.
Most had entered the country legally but exceeded their permitted stays or had expired visas, the Interior Ministry said. Some have done so repeatedly.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says the Czech Republic doesn’t want a new president of the European Commission that would bring back migrant quotas. As he left for a summit in Brussels, he also said he would not now be discussing a Commission audit finding him in conflict of interest with its outgoing chief.
Nowhere in the entire European Union was a person fleeing their homeland less likely to be granted safe harbour last year than in the Czech Republic. Fresh data from Eurostat show that in 2018 the Czech Ministry of Interior granted international protection to only 1 in 10 applicants – while not a single refugee was resettled here.
Last year the Czech Ministry of the Interior granted asylum to one in 10
applicants, iRozhlas.cz reported on Tuesday, citing data from Eurostat. The
chance of asylum being granted in this country is three times lower than
the EU average, the news site said.
The total number of people who received asylum or additional protection from the Czech authorities in 2018 was 155, equivalent to 15 per million inhabitants.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior said the Czech authorities received fewer applications from citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq – who are considered most in danger – than states such as Germany and Greece.
The Czech Republic has a higher percentage of asylum seekers from countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Cuba and Armenia.
European far-right leaders, including Marine Le Pen of France and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, gathered in Prague on Thursday for private meetings and a public rally in support of Czech politician Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy party, or the SPD. The fiercely anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic party is the fourth-largest in the Czech lower house and aims to win its first seats in the European Parliament in May.
The Czech police has arrested 12 foreign citizens and charged them with people smuggling. If convicted, the individuals could face up to 10 years in jail, Jaroslav Ibehej, spokesman for the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime (NCOZ), told the Czech News Agency on Friday. The suspects, all citizens of former Soviet countries, are believed to have belonged to an international group that focused on illegally smuggling migrants from Southeast Asia and providing them with false documents. The police spokesman says the group was destroyed through a combined effort of Czech, Polish, Slovak and Ukrainian police.