Prague, Jan 4 (CTK) – Prague has two months to complete its response to the lawsuit the EC filed against it on Thursday over its rejection of migrant quotas, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Irena Valentova told CTK, adding that Prague is unhappy about the EC’s step but agreement is still possible pending the court verdict.

The proceedings at the European Court of Justice might last up to 18 months. The Czech Republic would face a fine if it failed to respect the court’s verdict, Valentova said.

“The lawsuit will be delivered to us by the EU court in a few days…After we obtain and study the lawsuit, the government commissioner for the Czech representation at the European Court of Justice will complete a statement for the defence within two months,” Valentova said.

The Interior Ministry will cooperate with the Foreign Ministry in this respect, its spokeswoman Hana Mala told CTK.

Valentova said negotiations can be held simultaneously with the court proceedings.

“If we reach agreement with the EC, it may withdraw its lawsuit,” Valentova said.

She said the Czech Republic would face a fine only if it failed to comply with the court verdict.

In the proceedings, the European court will be deciding on whether the European law was breached by Prague. If it stated a breach of law, it would ask the Czechs for a remedy.

If the Czechs failed to meet the court’s demands, the court might launch new proceedings on whether to fine them.

Along with the Czech Republic, the EC has filed a legal action against Poland and Hungary in reaction to the three countries’ rejection of the migrant redistribution quotas which the EU countries’ interior ministers approved by a majority vote in 2015.

When envisaging the EC’s step in early December, EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans indicated that the discord can still be settled by a change in the three countries’ approach.

The first hearing at the European Court of Justice will not take place before November.

As of Thursday, the sued countries, including the Czechs, have the right to react to the lawsuit.

The migrant quotas mechanism was approved to help Greece and Italy burdened with migrants. Up to 160,000 applicants eligible for asylum were to be redistributed across the EU, but finally only 32,000 were relocated within the programme.

The Czech Republic accepted only 12 migrants before the Czech cabinet decided to shun the programme in mid-2017.