European Union court rejects refugee quota challenge from Hungary and Slovakia

August to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit Angelos Tzortzinis  Agence France Presse — Getty Ima
August to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit Angelos Tzortzinis Agence France Presse — Getty Ima

07 September, 2017

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said his country respects the European Court of Justice's (ECJ's) decision to reject their complaints but that it will not change his position.

In other words, the quotas don't work well as an important expression of political solidarity between European Union member states.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said "politics has raped European law and values" in response to Wednesday's ruling. He added: 'The real battle is only just beginning'.

So far less than 28,000 people have been relocated in the face of opposition from several Eastern European countries notably Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. He said it jeopardizes the security and future of Europe. Slovakia reacted by saying that the sentence should be complied with but that the relocation quotas do not work.

The European Court of Justice upheld the EU's right to order national governments to take in their fair share of asylum seekers, arguing that "the mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate".

Hungary and Slovakia had asked the court to annul the scheme, claiming that "adoption of the decision was vitiated by errors of a procedural nature or arising from the choice of an inappropriate legal basis".

The court's ruling is final and can not be appealed. Poland supported the plan, but later strongly opposed it when the right-wing PiS government came to power.

Back in June, dismayed over the failure of some member states to accept asylum-seekers, the European Commission chose to send letters of formal notice to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, which are the first step toward opening cases against the countries for not living up to their legal obligations.

Szijjarto said the decision was made based on political rather than legal or professional considerations.

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"All member states should be focusing on delivering, there is no time to waste", he told reporters in Brussels.

Earlier in August, according to the website of the Hungarian government, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen said that Hungary is willing to offer asylum to Aideen Strandsson, a Christian convert who is facing deportation to Iran after being denied asylum in Sweden.

Avramopoulos warned that if member states under the commission's probe do not change their approach in the "coming weeks", they would be referred to the ECJ.

The European Union says the bloc's migrant agreement with Turkey is working well but that more effort is needed to speed asylum applications.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the ruling means eastern European members must abide by the refugee sharing scheme. He says he expects all European Union countries to implement the decision "without further hesitation".

"Today's ruling shows that no country can hide from their responsibilities to refugees. Member states must show solidarity with each other, and with asylum seekers who are seeking protection in Europe".

They were an attempt to ease the pressure on frontline countries such as Greece and Italy.

As Deutsche Welle reports, "Only 24,000. refugees from Greece and Italy have been transferred to other states".

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