Published: Thu, September 07, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Refugee crisis: European Court of Justice rejects quota challenge

European Union countries agreed in September 2015 to relocate 160,000 refugees in Greece and Italy over two years, but only about 24,000 have been relocated so far.

"ECJ confirms relocation scheme valid".

"It is time to be united and show full solidarity".

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Wednesday that arrangement "continues to work and deliver results", the AP reports.

"If relocation were to be strictly conditional upon the existence of cultural or linguistic ties between each applicant for worldwide protection and the Member State of relocation, the distribution of those applicants between all the Member States in accordance with the principle of solidarity laid down by Article 80 TFEU and, consequently, the adoption of a binding relocation mechanism would be impossible", the ruling states.

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

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Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák said that Slovakia should not go against the ruling, and that the government will decide on further steps, the ČTK newswire reported.

Slovakia and Hungary lost a challenge Wednesday to European Union regulations that would have them take in asylum seekers, taking the pressure off countries like Greece and Italy besieged by the 2015 migrant crisis.

#ECJ confirms our view on the migration scheme.

"The Slovak appeal did not concern the fact of whether or not Slovakia must take in migrants, " Peter Susko said in commenting on the sentence to ANSA.

"We fully respect the verdict of the European Court of Justice", Fico told reporters, adding that his government's negative stance on the relocation plan "has not changed at all".

Szijjarto said the decision "endangers the future and security of Europe as a whole".

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Hungary has not accepted a single asylum seeker since the measures were introduced two years ago.

Since its introduction in September 2015, the quota system has fallen short of reaching its 120,000 target.

Mr Fico has made clear in recent weeks that he wants Slovakia to be close to a "core" of major European Union states, led by Germany and France, as they discuss plans for deeper future integration that are anathema to leaders in Budapest and Warsaw.

Slovakia expressed disappointment but said it would accept the failure of a case that it brought jointly with Hungary, highlighting its reluctance to join Budapest and Warsaw in outright confrontation with Brussels.

"Given the tense politics of internal solidarity it might make more sense for the commission to avoid insisting on the commitment, having made its point", said Elizabeth Collett, the European director of the Migration Policy Institute, a research organization.

"Our position on quotas does not change", Fico said.

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Amnesty International welcomed the court's decision.

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