On September 6th 2017, the EU Court of Justice has officially ruled against appeals from both Hungarian and Slovakian governments concerning the 2015 decision which stated that asylum seekers must be relocated among EU Member States. On the contrary, with this ruling the ECJ showed support for this mechanism, and thus confirms its opinion that relocating asylum seekers was a rightful decision at the time it has been taken.
To remedy the migration crisis that the EU has been facing since 2015 onwards – and especially Southern European countries such as Italy and Greece – the Council of the EU had indeed decided to trigger and temporarily use the relocation mechanism. When this decision has been taken, it was planned that more than 120 000 asylum seekers should have been relocated from Italy and Greece towards other Member States.
However, to this day, only about 28 000 persons have actually been ‘moved’ to another EU country, according to the most recent reports from the EU Commission.
Hungary and Slovakia, among others, have always shown some discontentment against the Council’s decision, and have been backed by others such as Poland. Hungary and Poland have therefore decided not to fulfil their legal obligations to welcome these refugees. Slovakia, while strongly disagreeing with the Court’s judgment, indicated that it respected this verdict and would fully meet the quotas that have been set up by the EU institutions.
The Member States which are not achieving their goals have been urged by numerous EU officials to host asylum seekers on their territory. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU’s Commissioner for Migration, estimated that “It is now absolutely urgent and necessary that all Member States show solidarity and speed up the rate of relocation”, underlying the slow rate at which refugees are currently being relocated throughout the EU.
The EU Commission already condemned Hungary and Poland for not meeting the quotas of refugees they are supposed to take in. It also initiated legal action against them, which could lead to financial penalties for the defaulters.
While the Court’s verdict has already been given, the Hungarian government, through the voice of its Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, reaffirmed its intentions to oppose any EU plans to resettle migrants in Hungary. He added that he thought the Court’s ruling was “outrageous and irresponsible”, and that “the real (legal) battle is only just beginning” between the Court and the Hungarian government.
For further information:
ECJ cases C-643/15 and C-647/15: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=9ea7d0f130d5b4f456204ce1408685e9caf3ba2b2c0d.e34KaxiLc3eQc40LaxqMbN4PaN4Se0?text=&docid=194081&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=839745
Gatestone Institute: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10956/european-court-migrants
Washington Post Site: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-court-rejects-hungary-slovakia-appeal-in-refugee-case/2017/09/06/a6ea517e-92dc-11e7-8482-8dc9a7af29f9_story.html?utm_term=.9721eb0957ae