As the European Commission is currently reviewing the EU budget, the Greek and Italian Prime Ministers have warned the Visegrad Group (V4) – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary – that they will veto their access to structural funds.
Athens and Rome demand the V4 group to comply with the European Commission’s mandatory refugee relocation plan put forward a year ago.
The plan envisages the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy across the bloc. The European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told the Polish Rzeczpospolita on Thursday that the European Commission remains committed to the plan.
From Athens, the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday that “if a member state does not want to adhere to the agreement, it will be a good idea to cut – or at least limit – it’s funding from Brussels.”
Speaking to Italy’s public broadcaster, RAI1, on Tuesday, Matteo Renzi said he would veto EU funds to countries that refuse to comply with the mandatory relocation plan. “We give 20 billion (euros) to Europe so that we can get back 12 — and if Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia want to preach at us about immigrants, allow Italy to say that the system is no longer working.”
“If you build walls against immigrants, you can forget about seeing Italian money. If the immigrants don’t go there, the money won’t go there either,” Renzi clarified.
The European Commission requested from Italy “clarifications” on its 2017 budget. Italy responded that it will have a higher budget deficit this year to meet the cost of refugees from arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean from North Africa. Up until October 2016 Italy had received 155,000 refugees.