European Union court rejects refugee quota challenge from Hungary and Slovakia
07 September, 2017, 02:05 | Author: Gary Shelton
Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania opposed the plan, arguing they were not equipped to integrate people from mainly Muslim countries.
European Union officials have always insisted that the scheme was legally binding on all member states without an opt-out, even if they voted against it in the Council.
"It is time to be united and show full solidarity".
He also said that "the door ... is still open, and we should convince all member states to fulfill their commitments".
It's not clear what consequences there will be, if any, for member states that refuse to take in migrants. "But now we can expect all European partners to stick to the ruling and implement the agreements without delay", Gabriel said in a statement.
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Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the court ruling "outrageous and irresponsible".
The European Commission warned EU member states earlier this year that there were "no more excuses" for not delivering on promises to take on refugees.
Since its introduction in September 2015, the quota system has fallen short of reaching its 120,000 target.
Since 2015, millions of refugees war-torn and economically ravaged regions in the Middle East namely Syria, North Africa, and Asia have arrived in Europe, largely in Greece and Italy.
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.
Poland initially accepted a quota of several thousand refugees, but quickly changed its mind after the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, citing security concerns.
Slovakia is not included in the legal action as it recently agreed to host a few refugees.
Reaction to the ruling was considerably calmer in Slovakia, where prime minister Robert Fico said that, although his government's view of the refugee relocation scheme "has not changed at all" it would "fully respect the verdict".
"We will continue to work on having solidarity expressed in different ways other than forcing migrants [on Slovakia] from other countries that don't want to be here anyway".
This is largely a result of a controversial deal the European Union signed with Turkey in March past year to send back migrants in return for billions of euros in aid and for admitting asylum seekers directly from refugee camps in Turkey. That measure, including payments of up to €6 billion to help Turkey manage its refugee population and a pledge to reinvigorate talks on the possibility of Turkey joining the bloc, slowed the flow across the Aegean route to a trickle.
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