Sunday, 19 November, 2017

Hungary and Slovakia Lose in Fight Over EU Migrant Quotas

ECJ rejects Slovakia, Hungary refugee challenge Top EU court throws out Slovakia and Hungary's action against migrant relocation
Wilma Wheeler | 07 September, 2017, 01:50

European Union's top court, European Court of Justice will announce its verdict on whether to accept or dismiss the legal challenge brought to the court by Hungary and Slovakia, which is also backed by Poland against European Migrant Quota that was adopted in 2015.

While Wednesday's ruling does not have direct consequences on Hungary's and Slovakia's policy, it could increase pressure on eastern and central European member states to take in people from Greece and Italy. So, according to the judges, this mechanism of distribution of refugees "contributes to the fact that Greece and Italy were able to cope with the effects of the migration crisis of 2015". Only around 24,000 people have been relocated so far.

Poland intervened in support of Slovakia and Hungary, but the court rejected its challenge which complained about the burden relocation has on its virtually ethnically homogenous population.

Over the past few years Europe has been faced with millions of refugees and asylum seekers escaping war zones and hardship from across Africa and the Middle East.

The case has highlighted a deep divide in the European Union as it has fumbled for a joint solution to the mass arrivals that have strained resources, roiled politics, and prompted outcries from human rights defenders who warn that the bloc risks violating global law on the treatment of refugees.

European Union officials have always insisted that the scheme was legally binding on all member states without an opt-out, even if they voted against it in the Council. "Now let's supersede the old Dublin rules".

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the court ruling "outrageous and irresponsible".

"The real battle is only just beginning", Szijjarto said, vowing that Hungary would continue to challenge any European Union attempt to resettle migrants in Hungary without its approval.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, an advocate for asylum seekers, urged Hungary to give refugees an opportunity to make their case for asylum. "Time to work in unity and implement solidarity in full", said EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Fico says the 2015 plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy over two years was a temporary solution that will cease to be effective on Sept 26.

The court, in its ruling, said that the move was taken in a non-legislative procedure, and did not require unanimity. The fences have mostly stopped migrants from passing through Hungary on their way to Western Europe but Hungary has also greatly reduced the chances for asylum-seekers to submit applications in the country.

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