The governments of Hungary and Slovakia are making their case to the European Court of Justice after refusing to take in redistributed migrants from Greece and Italy.
In September 2015, the European Union decided that all member states signed up to the bloc’s common asylum policy must take in migrants from Greece and Italy after border closures trapped the southern European countries with hundreds of thousands of migrants. Several countries, including Hungary and Slovakia, refused and now the pair is making their case to the European Court of Justice, German broadcaster MDR reports.
Both the Hungarian and Slovakian governments, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Prime Minister Robert Fico (above), are challenging the EU’s decision and say they do not have to abide by it because they did not agree to it in the first place. Whilst many EU decisions must be approved by all member states, the redistribution of migrants was approved with a majority.
The court hearing ultimately dated from a lawsuit filed by the two countries in December 2015. The Slovak representative said the redistribution scheme was political in nature and called it “inadequate and inefficient”.
The two countries also argued the EU should have been putting more effort into properly securing the political bloc’s external border as well as devoting more time and resources to processing individuals who they know would never qualify for an asylum claim.
The original intention of the redistribution agreement was to alleviate the pressure on Italy and Greece by sending 120,000 migrants to various countries in the EU. To date, only around 18,000 have actually been redistributed to other countries.
Hungary is also being pursued by the EU for its treatment of the asylum seekers who have sought to claim asylum there. The Hungarians have erected processing centres and detained migrants in Hungary until their asylum applications have been processed.
Various NGOs and pro-migrant activists have claimed that Hungarian border guards have abused the migrants, though the Hungarian government has denied the claims. Court cases have shown that whilst there have been several fines of officers for mild abuses, the number is much lower than what the NGOs claim.
Both Slovakia and Hungary are part of the Visegrád group which includes Poland and the Czech Republic. All four nations are firmly against the redistribution of migrants.
Most recently, whilst still running for the French presidency, Emmanuel Macron threatened Poland with sanctions because of their refusal to accept migrants.
The Polish government called his comments “unacceptable” and Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said Macron had “violated European standards and the principles of friendship with Poland”.