Sweden, which takes in the second-largest number of asylum seekers after Germany, has long supported introducing such a mandatory relocation scheme.
Refugees arriving in Stockholm earlier this month. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
The Commission has accused the member states of infringing laws regarding the recognition of refugees, minimum standards for asylum procedures and inadequate conditions for receiving refugees.
“The pieces of legislation concerned focus on fairer, quicker and better quality asylum decisions (the Asylum Procedures Directive); ensuring that there are humane physical reception conditions (such as housing) for asylum seekers across the EU (the Reception Conditions Directive); and clarifying the grounds for granting international protection,” the Commission said in a statement.
A total of 40 violations are being investigated among the 19 countries, which also include Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands and Hungary.
“In Europe everyone must uphold the commonly agreed standards, in the way we receive asylum seekers,” said Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in a statement.
“These standards need to be fully implemented and respected, while always respecting the dignity and human rights of the applicants.”
The countries under investigation will first receive a letter of formal notice from the Commission and then will have two months to respond.
If they do not properly implement existing EU laws, they will be threatened with an indictment in the European Court.
Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom are not facing scrutiny because they do not take part in EU asylum legislation.
The commission's investigation comes as EU leaders are meeting on Wednesday for an emergency summit about the ongoing refugee crisis across the continent, where they will be discussing border security, aid resources and a plan to redistribute 120,000 refugees among member states.
On Tuesday, EU interior ministers voted on a plan to share responsibility for refugees across Europe through a quota system.
“It would then mean that you force countries to do things they do not want. On the other hand, that's a situation we all sometimes experience, that you sometimes have to do things you don't want to do, just because the circumstances actually call for political leadership,” Swedish Migration and Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told Swedish Radio earlier this month while calling for the EU to exercise its political leadership.
The Nordic nation has a global reputation for helping refugees, but it has faced some criticism within Sweden following complaints from asylum seekers about long waiting times and access to housing.
The Local was not immediately able to reach the country's migration board (Migrationsverket) for comment.