The European Union has announced legal proceedings against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in a move that threatens to deepen the EU’s east-west divide over migration policy.

The move against the three eastern member states by the European Commission came after they refused to accept any migrants as part of an EU-wide relocation plan for 160,000 migrants.

In a statement, the European Commission said it was launching the cases after “repeated calls” on the three to pledge to accept the migrant quotas, all of which had been ignored. “Against this background … the Commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three Member States,” it said.

The three states – which all immediately rejected the EU decision – could face fines and other sanctions, although the process, if it comes to anything, is expected to take many months, or even years.

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