Refugee Quotas Are Legal, Brussels Tells Budapest and Bratislava

Hungary Closes Border With Croatia Migrants Flood Into Tiny Slovenia

While Wednesday's ruling does not have direct consequences on Hungary's and Slovakia's policy, it could increase pressure on eastern and central European member states to take in people from Greece and Italy.

The European Court of Justice has rejected efforts by Hungary and Slovakia to stay out of an EU scheme meant to relocate refugees. So, according to the judges, this mechanism of distribution of refugees "contributes to the fact that Greece and Italy were able to cope with the effects of the migration crisis of 2015". Only around 24,000 people have been relocated so far.

The European Union's top migration official says the EU could soon take court action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland if they do not live up to their obligations to accept refugees like EU nations are doing.

"I was convinced that such a decision would be made [by the court], but this absolutely does not change the stance of the Polish government with respect to migration policy", Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo said on Wednesday.

In their case before the ECJ, Hungary and Slovakia argued that there had been procedural flaws and that the decision was neither a suitable response to the migrant crisis nor necessary to deal with it.

The refugee sharing plan was adopted by a "qualified majority" European Union vote - around two thirds of the bloc's members - and the court held that this was appropriate, saying the European Union "was not required to act unanimously" on this decision.

While Hungary and Slovakia have now failed in their legal challenge to the policy, that doesn't fix the political problem.

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The European Commission, the EU executive, welcomed the ECJ ruling.

It estimates that another 2,800 still need to be relocated from Greece, while Italy counts 7,200 who are eligible so far this year - of which only 4,000 have been registered for relocation.

Some 54,000 are now due to be taken from camps in Turkey, which lowers the total figure to be relocated from Greece and Italy.

In related news, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, said on 31 August that Budapest is asking Brussels for $400 million for expenses related to border protection, which include a fence on its Serbian border finished in April, POLITICO writes.

Slovakia is not included in the legal action as it recently agreed to host a few refugees.

"Due to the ongoing instability and conflicts in the immediate neighborhood of Italy and Greece, and the repercussions in migratory flows on other member states, it is very likely that a significant and increased pressure will continue to be put on their migration and asylum systems, with a significant proportion of the migrants who may be in need of worldwide protection", the Court of Justice found Wednesday.

Hungary and Slovakia were seeking to have the decision annulled.

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