Migrant quota challenge should be dismissed by Luxembourg court
(AFP) The EU's top court in Luxembourg should throw out a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia to a scheme to share thousands of asylum-seekers among member states under a quota system, the court's senior lawyer said Wednesday.
The two countries filed lawsuits with the European Court of Justice in 2015 shortly after the bloc's leaders pushed through the mandatory quotas to ease the migrant crisis, over the objections of Budapest and Bratislava.
But the court's advocate general Yves Bot, in an official legal opinion, "proposes that the court should dismiss the actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against the provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers."
"That mechanism is actually a proportionate means of enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis," the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement.
Advocates general of the ECJ in Luxembourg are regularly called on to give their view before the court makes a final ruling. The court often but not always follows them.
The EU relocation scheme involves some 160,000 refugees. The European Commission was later Wednesday set to release the latest figures showing that more than 24,000 refugees have been shared out under the scheme so far.
A wave of people fleeing the war in Syria and conflict and poverty in other Middle Eastern and African countries in 2015 triggered Europe's biggest migration crisis since World War II.
Bot rejected arguments by Hungary and Slovakia that the mandatory quotas should have been approved unanimously by EU countries, instead of being agreed by a qualified majority despite the two states' objections.
He also said the "contested decision automatically helps to relieve the considerable pressure on the asylum systems of Italy and Greece following the migration crisis in the summer of 2015 and that it is thus appropriate for attaining the objective which it pursues."
The migrant crisis has fuelled a split in the EU between frontline states like Italy and Greece and mostly eastern European countries that are opposed to migration and rejected mandatory quotas.
Last month the European Commission launched legal proceedings against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for failing to take in their share of refugees under the scheme.