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EU refugee quota scheme taken to court

May 10, 2017

Budapest has urged a new EU-wide mechanism to deport migrants, saying that deportation is "mostly not possible" in current conditions. Hungary and Slovakia filed a joint case against the EU's refugee distribution scheme.

Ungarn Grenzzaun zwischen Serbien und Ungarn
Image: picture alliance/dpa/MTI/B. Mohai

Representatives of the two nations addressed the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Wednesday in a bid to dispute the EU's decision to distribute migrants throughout the bloc on a quota basis. Faced with hundreds of thousands of migrants sailing to Italian and Greek shores,  the EU Council decided to lighten the load by distributing newcomers among the remaining members states. However, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic all voted against the move.

Bratislava and Budapest decided to take the decision to court, disputing its legal basis.

"We have complied a ten-point list of reasons we believe this decision to be illegal," Hungary's Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi told  German daily "Welt." The decision to assign quotas also sends the wrong signal to potential migrants, the minister said.

This message is "Go ahead and come to Europe, we will handle the distribution," according to Trocsanyi. "Secondly, it's not effective. These people want to go to very specific countries, not countries like Romania, Bulgaria, or Hungary. Those who were sent to Latvia were back in Germany in just two days."

"Thirdly, it's an issue of sovereignty," he added.

Hungary waits for ECJ judges

According to the quota agreement,  EU members were required to take in over 100,000 immigrants from its two most burdened states. "Almost two years later, only 14 percent of refugees have been relocated from Italy and 18 of those from Greece," Trocsanyi added.

Karte Ungarn Grenzstädte Kroatien Serbien Englisch
Hungary constructed barbed wire fence on border with Serbia and Croatia

The ECJ judges are expected to pass their ruling in several months time. If the court upholds the EU's decision, Hungary and Slovakia will accept the ruling, the official said.

"Hungary abides by the law and fulfils its duties," he said.

Frontex to take over deportation

The EU's deportation policy is among the biggest problems of the refugee crisis, as returning migrants to their home countries is "mostly not possible," the minister told "Welt."

Budapest wants a new, Europe-wide solution to ease deportation, by boosting the EU's border protection agency Frontex.

"We need to provide Frontex with new abilities and financial support, in order to organize flights and take migrants back to their home countries if they don't qualify for protection," Trocsanyi said.

Especially for the smaller countries, it would be "more effective if EU's Frontex negotiates return with migrant home countries, than for example Hungary negotiating with Afghanistan."

dj/rt (KNA, dpa)