By: Sara Adams
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Europe
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg – The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) ruled September 7th in favor of the European Union’s migrant redistribution scheme.
The case was brought by Hungary and Slovakia, two members of the European Union that have refused to take their share of the migrants flooding into the European continent.
The two countries have been at odds with the governing body of the EU since September 2015, when the relocation plan passed. EU member countries have since been required to take their portion of refugees and migrants from Greece and Italy.
Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Poland all voted against the relocation plan. Among the four countries, only Slovakia accepted any refugees, but not enough to meet their quota.
Migrant and refugee concerns have grown to become a largely divisive issue within the European Union.
Since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, far-right politics has spread through the European mainland, mostly revolving around anti-immigration, isolationist policy points.
Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, criticized the decision by the ECJ, saying that it is a way of taking away state “right[s] to self-determination and decision-making when it comes to receiving [asylum-seekers].”
Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto took harsher words to describe the binding decision by the court, stating that “politics has raped European law and values.”
But the EU Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, stands by the ECJ’s ruling. He called for unity on Twitter, saying it is “time to work in unity and implement solidarity in full.”
If the countries fail to comply with the binding order of the ECJ, the threat of further legal action hovers. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, has already brought action against Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic for their failure to comply with the mandatory relocation program.
They may face heavy fines if they do not comport with the new decision.
The fate of the asylum-seekers also rests in the hands of the five European Union member states who have resisted compliance.
Since August 30th, only 27,412 asylum seekers in Greece and Italy have been transferred to 24 other countries. The relocation scheme called for relocating 120,000.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has specifically called out Brussels, the center of the EU government, for actions he believe violate state sovereignty.
“[The question is raised] of principles: Whether we are an alliance of European free nations with the commission representing our interests, or a European empire which has its center in Brussels and which can issue such orders,” Mr. Orban said in a statement. “The real battle is just beginning.”
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