Top EU court throws out Slovakia and Hungary’s action against migrant relocation

Hungary and Slovakia were allocated 1,294 and 902 refugees under the EU relocation quota but Hungary has yet to relocate one and Slovakia has so far relocated 16

File photo of a standoff between refugees crossing over the Slovenian border
File photo of a standoff between refugees crossing over the Slovenian border

The European Court of Justice has dismissed actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against a provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers.

The mechanism helps frontier countries like Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis, and the EU court said the action was proportionate.

In response to the migration crisis that affected Europe in the summer of 2015, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision for the relocation from those two member states to other EU states, over a period of two years, of just 120,000 persons in clear need of international protection.

Article 78(3) of the EU Treaty provides that ‘in the event of one or more Member States being confronted by an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, may adopt provisional measures for the benefit of the Member State(s) concerned.’

Slovakia and Hungary which, like the Czech Republic and Romania, voted against the adoption of the contested decision in the Council, and asked the ECJ to annul the decision.

In the proceedings before the Court, Poland has intervened in support of Slovakia and Hungary, while Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Commission intervened in support of the Council.

The Court decreed that the relocation mechanism was not a measure that was inappropriate to achieving its objective, namely helping Greece and Italy to cope with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis.

“The Council carried out, on the basis of a detailed examination of the statistical data available to it at the time, an objective analysis of the effects of the measure on the emergency situation in question.”

Reacting to the news that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected Slovakia and Hungary’s application to be exempted from the EU’s scheme for relocating refugees from Italy and Greece to other member states, Iverna McGowan, Director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office, said:

“Today’s ruling shows that no country can hide from their responsibilities to refugees. 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 Hungarian and Slovakian governments’ appeal to ECJ was a baseless attempt to make ‘refugee free zones’ of their countries. Member states must show solidarity with each other, and with asylum seekers who are seeking protection in Europe.”

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