Wednesday

27th Jan 2021

EU court overrules Hungary and Slovakia on migrants

  • Hungary and Slovakia rejected the EU's decision to distribute migrants across member states (Photo: plan-international.org)

The EU's top court has ruled that the union's migrant relocation quotas were legal, dismissing a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said on Wednesday (6 September) that an EU Council decision in September 2015 that imposed the quota system was valid.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

EU interior ministers at the time voted to share 120,000 asylum seekers from frontline states Greece and Italy.

They were to be distributed according to Commission calculations based on member states' size and wealth, with Hungary obliged to take 1,294 people and Slovakia to take 902.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia voted against the scheme. Poland later joined the rebels after a change of government in Warsaw.

Hungary and Slovakia also launched legal action at the ECJ in December 2015.

They said the interior ministers' vote was contrary to an earlier EU summit commitment.

They also said that the Council should have tabled a new proposal after Hungary had boycotted an initial one and that the European Parliament should have been consulted.

Some diplomats from the rebel EU countries still refer to the quota vote as an "original sin" that broke trust between the Commission and eastern and central European governments.

The Slovak prime minister, Robert Fico, called the migrant quota system "politically dead" last year.

Wednesday's court decision is likely to aggravate an already difficult debate.

Leading EU countries, including France and Germany, have accused the quota rebels of showing lack of EU solidarity.

But right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland have accused the EU of violating their sovereignty and of creating a terrorist risk by trying to force them to take in Muslims.

The Commission launched legal action against Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia in June for their boycott of the quota scheme.

Those cases could also end up in the ECJ, leading to potential fines, with Wednesday's court verdict stregthening the Commission's hand.

Hungary and Poland had not taken any migrants from Italy or Greece as of 1 September.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia had taken in just 28 people in total over the past two years.

The legal disputes come as member states continue debating the reform of the EU's asylum system, including the relocation of asylum seekers, in case there is another mass-scale influx of people as in 2015, when more than 1 million came to Europe seeking help.

Agenda

EU court to rule on migrant quotas This Week

A court ruling on migrant relocations will spotlight on one of the EU bloc's most divisive issues this week. The North Korea crisis will also pose a test for EU foreign policy.

Opinion

Migrant relocation ruling raises questions

The recent EU court decision to refute Hungary and Slovakia's objections to the EU relocation scheme raises a number of important questions.

EU demands answers on Croat border attacks against migrants

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson wants to send her officials to Croatia sometime this month to make sure authorities there are complying with fundamental rights following numerous allegations of violence against migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country.

EU watchdog launches probe on Croat border violence

The European Ombudsman is launching a case into the lack of proper oversight by the European Commission when it comes to how fundamental rights of migrants and refugees are allegedly being violated by Croat border police.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us