Posted on April 3, 2020

E.U. Court Rules 3 Countries Violated Deal on Refugee Quotas

atina Stevis-Gridneff and Monika Pronczuk, New York Times, April 2, 2020

The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic had violated their obligations by refusing to take in their fair share of asylum seekers at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.

The court’s ruling, which is final, said that the three Eastern European countries had failed to live up to their end of a European Union agreement to distribute 160,000 asylum seekers who had made their way to Greece and Italy, which are on the European external borders. {snip}

The crisis threatened to upend the core of the European Union, fueled the rise of the far right and moved many countries’ governments to the more conservative end of the spectrum.

The three countries’ refusal to participate in the relocation scheme, an emergency measure put in place to help Greece and Italy and intended to make the distribution of new arrivals more equitable, was viewed by some other European Union countries as particularly offensive.


The relocation program lapsed in 2017, so there’s no practical way to make Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic take in more asylum seekers now. It is up to the European Commission to decide what to do next, the court said, referring to the executive arm of the European Union.


“While history has proved us right, Hungary was, nonetheless, taken to court,” the country’s justice minister, Judit Varga, said in a statement. “This is especially shocking in the light of the fact that almost none of the member states have fully implemented the 2015 ‘quota decisions,’” Ms. Varga added, referring to the failed quota system distributing asylum seekers to different European countries.


The Polish government said in a statement: “The refusal to comply with the relocation mechanism was dictated by the need to protect Poland’s internal security and defend it against uncontrolled migration. The most important goal of government policy is to ensure the safety of our citizens.”

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, said in response to the ruling: “We lost the case; it is not that important. Important is that we do not have to pay anything. The commission only applies refunds for the proceedings.”


The nationalist governments of the three countries previously cited national security reasons in refusing to take in any of the refugees and migrants. Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, for example, vowed to block the European Union program to resettle migrants from Africa and the Middle East, saying that it was important to secure his nation’s borders from the mainly Muslim migrants “to keep Europe Christian.”