Monday, 11 December, 2017

Hungary, Slovakia lose fight against European Union migration deal

ECJ rejects Slovakia, Hungary refugee challenge Top EU court throws out Slovakia and Hungary's action against migrant relocation
Melody Ballard | 07 September, 2017, 02:02

The group's European Union office director, Iverna McGowan, said that "Slovakia and Hungary have tried to dodge the EU's system for solidarity, but each country has a role to play in protecting people fleeing violence and persecution". The European Commission, Greece, Italy, Germany, Sweden and several other EU countries backed the plan.

The burden sharing agreement was struck despite the EU's so-called Dublin rules, which requires immigrants to apply for asylum in their country of first arrival. The ruling will also complicate relations between the European Union and Poland, which supported the Hungarian and Slovakian challenge.

While Hungary and Slovakia have now failed in their legal challenge to the policy, that doesn't fix the political problem. Slovakia and Hungary insisted in their lawsuits that the quota mechanism should have been passed unanimously.

The EU win in court will likely deepen tensions between the 28-member bloc and Hungary, whose prime minister, Viktor Orban, has made his objection to the asylum policy a central focus of his leadership.

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

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Wednesday that arrangement "continues to work and deliver results", the AP reports.

Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák said that Slovakia should not go against the ruling, and that the government will decide on further steps, the ČTK newswire reported.

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"I always said to our eastern European partners that it is right to clarify questions legally if there is doubt". Slovakia has accepted about a dozen and Hungary has completely shut the door to any migrants.

"We fully respect the verdict of the European Court of Justice", Fico told reporters, but added that his government still views the system of quotas imposed by Brussels negatively.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the ruling was "outrageous and irresponsible", the Associated Press reports, and vowed Hungary would fight any attempts to resettle migrants there without government approval.

Iverna McGowan, director of the Amnesty International's European Institutions Office said: "Today's ruling shows that no country can hide from their responsibilities to refugees".

Since compulsory quotas were introduced in September 2015, Hungary has not accepted a single asylum seeker, while almost 28,000 people have been relocated under the scheme, far below the 160,000 target.

Under the plan, Hungary must admit more than 2,300 asylum seekers, while Slovakia must in the long term take in 1,400.

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