European Union wins legal battle on refugee quotas

Violet Powell
September 7, 2017

Meant to last just two years, the measure adopted by the Council of the European Union calls for other EU member states to help relocate 120,000 migrants in need of global protection.

The countries claimed the relocation scheme was non-binding as they had voted against the deal, together with the Czech Republic and Romania.

Poland initially supported the plan but has come out strongly opposed since a right-wing government came to power.

It was introduced as an exception to the so-called Dublin rules under which migrants must apply for asylum in the member state where they first land.

In asking the court to annul the deal, Hungary and Slovakia argued at the Court of Justice that there were procedural mistakes, and that quotas were not a suitable response to the migrant crisis.

The ECJ said in its ruling that the European Union "was not required to act unanimously when it adopted the contested decision". Slovakia and the Czech Republic have only taken in a handful. Despite earnest efforts from some European Union leaders, there have not been much of a progress in that area and millions remain stranded in the country they first arrived namely Italy and Greece leading to more political tensions in those two countries.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has echoed that threat, warning Orban "solidarity is not a one-way street".

Szijjarto said Hungary will continue to put emphasis on the defense of the EU's external borders and said it is time for the European Union to abandon the "unsuccessful" relocation scheme.

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EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Wednesday that "the EU-Turkey statement continues to work and deliver results".

"Today's ruling shows that no country can hide from their responsibilities to refugees".

"I always said to our eastern European partners that it is right to clarify questions legally if there is doubt. The door remains, it is still open, and we should convince all member states to fulfill their commitments", he said.

Beata Szydlo spoke on Wednesday after the European Court of Justice rejected efforts by Hungary and Slovakia to stay out of an EU scheme meant to relocate refugees from Greece and Italy.

"Our position on quotas does not change", Fico said.

But Hungary, where outspoken Prime Minister Viktor Orban has built border fences and made keeping out migrants a key plank of his re-election campaign for next year, branded the European Court of Justice ruling "appalling and irresponsible".

"This decision jeopardises the security and future of all of Europe", he told a press conference, adding that the decion was political.

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