Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 6 News List

EU can force members to take refugees: court

ASYLUM:The EU can order national governments to take in quotas of mainly Syrian refugees relocated from Italy and Greece, the European Court of Justice said

Reuters, LUXEMBOURG

The EU’s highest court yesterday dismissed complaints by Slovakia and Hungary about EU migration policy, upholding Brussels’ right to force member states to take in asylum seekers.

In the latest twist to a dispute that broke out two years ago when more than 1 million migrants poured across the Mediterranean, the European Court of Justice found that the bloc was entitled to order national governments to take in quotas of mainly Syrian refugees relocated from Italy and Greece.

“The court dismisses the actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against the provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers,” the Luxembourg-based court said, adding it rejected the complaints “in their entirety.”

“The mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate,” it said.

The program set up by the executive European Commission was approved by a majority vote of member states in the face of opposition from formerly communist countries in the east who said their societies could not absorb mainly Muslim immigrants.

It provided for the relocation of up to 120,000 people, but only about 25,000 have so far been moved.

A further program for resettling people directly from outside the EU has also struggled to hit targets for taking in asylum seekers.

“Time to work in unity and implement solidarity in full,” European Commissioner on Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos tweeted.

However, the commission’s chief spokesman denied a report that the executive would propose a new round of 40,000 relocations.

It is unclear how far Brussels may try to force eastern states to take refugees, many of whom themselves are reluctant to settle in the poorer, ex-Soviet bloc.

However, countries like Germany and Italy, which are housing large numbers, have said the easterners are jeopardizing Western-funded EU subsidies if they go on refusing, adding to deep strains in the bloc as it deals with the UK’s imminent exit and a still limping economy.

“The quota system does not work, so the court decision is, perhaps, irrelevant at the moment,” Slovakian Economy Minister Peter Ziga told reporters.

He said a new mechanism was needed though the problem was not as grave as arrivals had declined.

Hungary called the ruling appalling and unacceptable.

“The Hungarian government considers today’s decision by the European court to be appalling and irresponsible,” Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto told a news conference. “This decision jeopardizes the security and future of all of Europe.”

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