International desk, September 6: The EU’s top court has rejected a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia to a migrant relocation deal drawn up at the height of the crisis in 2015.
Hungary has not accepted a single asylum seeker since the measures were introduced two years ago.
They were an attempt to ease the pressure on frontline countries such as Greece and Italy.
But the ruling has sparked fury, with Hungary’s foreign minister vowing: “The real fight starts now.”
Since 2014, about 1.7 million migrants have tried to make new homes in the EU – and the numbers peaked in 2015.
In September that year, European leaders agreed to spread a total of 160,000 asylum seekers among member states over two years.
Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania voted against the quotas.
The issue was decided by a majority vote – usually followed on issues that do not affect national sovereignty.
To date, Hungary has refused to take a single asylum seeker, while Slovakia has accepted only about a dozen.
Only 28,000 people have actually been relocated under the scheme.
The European Union regards the policy of relocating migrants who’ve crossed the Mediterranean as an important expression of political solidarity between member states.
Under the policy it set quotas for each country to accept fixed numbers of migrants to ease the direct burden on Italy and Greece – the usual points of arrival.
While Hungary and Slovakia have now failed in their legal challenge to the policy, that doesn’t fix the political problem. The European Commission may still have to threaten financial penalties against countries that don’t co-operate if the ruling from Luxembourg doesn’t change their minds.