European Union wins legal battle on refugee quotas

Kelvin Reese
September 7, 2017

In the proceedings before the Court, Poland has intervened in support of Slovakia and Hungary, while Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Commission intervened in support of the Council.

The European Court of Justice has dismissed actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against a provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers.

The ruling follows an European Union decision made in 2015 to rehouse some 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy over a period of two years, only around 27,700 of whom have been settled so far. However, at the moment were allocated only about 25 thousand people. Almost 80 percent arrived in Italy, with the rest divided among Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

"But we should be clear that member states have to show solidarity now because it is now that some member states need help".

If the member states do not change their approach in the coming weeks, we should then consider [taking] the last step in the infringement procedure: "to refer Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to the European Court of Justice".

"The decision puts at risk the security of all of Europe and the future of all of Europe as well", Szijjarto said, calling the ruling "contrary to the interests of the European nations, including Hungary". Slovakia and the Czech Republic have only taken in a handful.

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Hungary's prime minister, Peter Szijjarto, said after the ruling Wednesday that his government finds the decision "appalling and irresponsible".

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the ruling means eastern European members must abide by the refugee sharing scheme.

Under the emergency scheme, 120,000 relocations were due to take place over two years, ending in September 2017.

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 worldwide law on the treatment of refugees.

Slovakia is not included in the legal action as it recently agreed to host a few refugees. The arrival of refugees, who are predominantly Muslim in their faith has created socio-political tensions in the block and given to the rise of populism in Europe and anti-immigrant parties. "Solidarity can not be a la carte", Avramopoulos said, referring to a recent request by Budapest to the European Union commission to finance its border fence.

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