Hungary and Slovakia must stick or twist — European Union refugee ruling

Posted September 07, 2017

In an escalating row over its migration policy, Brussels threatened to sanction any member states who refuse to comply after the European Court of Justice dismissed a complaint about the rules. "By today's judgment, the Court dismisses in their entirety the actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary", the court said in a statement.

At issue is a quota system adopted by the European Union to help Italy and Greece amid the 2015 migration crisis.

The ECJ's decision responded to a complaint by Hungary and Slovakia over the legality of a September 2015 Council decision to distribute asylum seekers from Greece and Italy across the bloc, based on quotas established by the European Union commission.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the measure, which was then challenged by Hungary and Slovakia later that year. Slovakia has accepted about a dozen and Hungary has completely shut the door to any migrants.

"The existence of those various adjustment mechanisms shows that the relocation mechanism for which the contested decision provides, taken as a whole, enables account to be taken, in a proportionate manner, of the particular situation of each Member State in this regard", the ruling states.

Back in June, dismayed over the failure of some member states to accept asylum-seekers, the European Commission made a decision 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.

"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.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has echoed that threat, warning Orban "solidarity is not a one-way street". Of those, 19,200 were transferred from Greece and 8,212 from Italy.

The legal challenge was also backed by Poland, which alongside Hungary has not taken in any asylum seekers.

He described the court's decision as political.

While Brussels expects previously non-compliant countries to accept refugees within weeks, Mr Szijjarto pre-empted a bitter stand-off by saying "all legal means" would be used to oppose the decision.

"Politics has raped European law and values", he added.

He said migrant arrivals in Greece from Turkey had dropped 97 percent since the deal in March a year ago, and that more than 8,800 Syrians in Turkey had now found homes in Europe.

But the bloc soon faced intense opposition from member states in Central and Eastern Europe that resented any obligation to accept a preset number of migrants arriving in Greece and Italy.