Germany's Schulz threatens cut in EU funds for anti-migrant countries


European Union funds should be awarded according to "solidarity" principles, German opposition leader Martin Schulz said Tuesday, hinting that Central and Eastern European countries who refuse to take in migrants should receive less from Brussels.

"There is no refugee crisis in Europe - we are a rich and huge continent and just have to distribute the refugees in a sensible way. What we have is a crisis of solidarity," the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) wrote on Facebook.

"There are those countries that say yes to Europe when they get something. And they say no, when they are supposed to do something, like for example accepting refugees. This must end. As chancellor, I will veto any EU budget that is not based on the principle of solidarity," Schulz added.

In June, the European Commission started legal action against Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary for refusing to accept refugees from Italy and Greece, as part of a migration burden-sharing deal reached in 2015.

Former Italian premier Matteo Renzi was among the first, last year, to accuse EU peers from Central and Eastern Europe of selfishness on the migration crisis, and to threaten retaliation with a cut in EU funds for them.

"If you don't show solidarity on migration, I think it is absolutely legitimate for bigger countries to not show solidarity on [EU budget] contributions," Renzi said in February 2016.

Schulz' statement in support of the Italian position came as the SPD is battling to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September 24 elections. Polls suggest that Merkel is favoured to win what would be her fourth term in government.

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