Monday

19th Nov 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland extradites Polish man despite rule of law concerns
  2. Germany and France agree eurozone budget framework
  3. Austrian foreign minister: EU's Israel policy 'too strict'
  4. Soros and Kurz discuss Central European University move
  5. EU set to tighten rules on foreign strategic investment
  6. Macron repeats call for unified Europe in Bundestag speech
  7. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  8. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  2. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  3. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  4. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine
  5. EU must recognise new force for Balkans destabilisation
  6. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  7. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  8. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us