EU Court Rejects Challenges to Refugee Resettlement

August to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit Angelos Tzortzinis  Agence France Presse — Getty Ima

Poland's prime minister says her country will stick by its refusal to take in refugees even though the European Union's top court is reasserting its right to force member states to accept asylum-seekers.

The European Court of Justice has dismissed actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against a provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers.

"The mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate", the ECJ said in a statement announcing its ruling.

Officials in Brussels have argued that the scheme is legally binding on member states, including those that voted against the quotas like Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania. All four countries also say migrants will disrupt their societies and the EU's focus should be on protecting its external borders.

"We fully respect the verdict of the European Court of Justice", Fico told reporters, but added that his government still views the system of quotas imposed by Brussels negatively.

Hungary asked Brussels last week to pay €400 million towards the cost of security at its frontiers, and Mr Szijjarto complained that "the European Commission is not funding border protection, but only the admission of illegal immigrants".

Only 24,000 of 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy have been transferred to other states under the EU's refugee burden sharing policy.

"ECJ confirms relocation scheme valid".

In Budapest, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the court's decision "outrageous and irresponsible".

He said the slow pace of relocation "draws attention to significant gaps in the EU's response to the biggest refugee crisis on the continent since World War II".

The ruling means that Hungary and Slovakia could face fines if they refuse to abide by the quota system.

He said the total to be relocated from the two European Union states is "much lower" with a 97 percent drop in people landing in Greece from Turkey and with the fact most arriving in Italy from Libya are not eligible at all.

A further 7,000 asylum-seekers who arrive before September 26 can be redistributed to other EU countries from Italy and another 4,700 from Greece, according to the European Commission.

The program is considered a key part of the EU's migration policy.

"The decision puts at risk the security of all of Europe and the future of all of Europe as well", Szijjarto said, calling the ruling "contrary to the interests of the European nations, including Hungary".

The fences have mostly stopped refugees from passing through Hungary on their way to western Europe but Hungary has also greatly reduced the chances for asylum seekers to submit applications for protection in the country.

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