The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic had “failed to fulfil their obligations under European law” after they failed to comply with a decision to shelter refugees in line with national quotas. They “can rely neither on their responsibilities concerning the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security, nor on the alleged malfunctioning of the relocation mechanism to avoid implementing that mechanism,” the Luxembourg-based court said today in its binding ruling.
Setting out the violations, the ECJ said: “Poland indicated that 100 persons could be swiftly relocated to its territory. However, it did not relocate those persons and it did not make any subsequent relocation commitment.”
It said Hungary did not even indicate a number of people to take and the Czech Republic only took 12 asylum seekers from Greece after promising to accept 50.
The Commission opened its case against back in 2017, two years after the capitals refused to resettle migrants who had arrived on the Continent via Italy and Greece.
The eurosceptic governments argued they couldn’t take in the migrants for national security reasons.
Their stance infuriated Rome and Athens, who felt the brunt of the crisis, after they become overwhelmed by daily arrivals.
Greece alone saw more than a million migrants arrive on its shores during the 2015-2016 crisis.
It now hosts more than 100,000 people in camps, most of which are dangerous overcrowded.
Germany also lashed out at the time after Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her borders to resettle hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
More than a million people arrived in Europe after making the deadly crossing across the Mediterranean in 2015.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “That case is the 2015 migration crisis, the relocation decisions adopted by the Council at the time were intended to support Italy and Greece. All member states were required to participate in a temporary relocation scheme – Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic did not.
“And today the court found that, as a consequence, they did not fulfil their obligations. This ruling is important, it is referring to the past but it will give us guidance in the future.
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“The court is very clear about the responsibility of member states. And we are now working on a preparing the migration pact.”
The EU has since cracked down on immigration, by fortifying the bloc’s external borers and offering money and aid packages, such as Turkey, to help curb the flow of migrants heading to Europe.
In order to impose lump sum fines on Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, Brussels must now request another case with the ECJ.
A source said: “There is no way they can physically avoid the fine, but see it’s down to the Commission to make the request.”
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Critics said the ECJ’s decision demands the need for a new discussion about the bloc’s migration policy.
Left-wing MEP Cornelia Ernst said: “The ruling is unambiguous. We must now start work on a fair and solidarity EU system – one that puts asylum seekers at its heart.
“The ECJ ruling sends a clear signal to PiS and Fidesz: asylum seekers do not pose a threat to public security.”
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