The EU took the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the bloc's top court Thursday over their refusal to accept quotas for refugees, setting up a new clash between Brussels and key eastern states.
The move shows the determination in Brussels to enforce the controversial scheme launched at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 to share 160,000 refugees around the bloc and ease the burden on Greece and Italy.
"The European Commission has today decided to refer the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for non-compliance with their legal obligations on relocation," the commission said in a statement.
Brussels launched so-called infringement proceedings against the three countries in June for failing to take in any refugees under the quota system, and warned them last month of further action.
The three countries -- which say the quotas are an attempt by Brussels to limit national sovereignty -- all face heavy fines for failing to comply with any eventual ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.
The ongoing row over the quota scheme has held up efforts to reform the bloc's asylum system, which leaders are supposed to be discussing at an EU summit in Brussels on December 14-15.
It also underscores a growing rift between western European states and newer, former Soviet-bloc states in the European Union over a series of issues.