Hungary loses asylum-seeker quota lawsuit

September 6, 2017
Photo: Flickr/European People’s Party

The Hungarian government has lost its lawsuit challenging the obligatory relocation of asylum-seekers across the European Union, reports

The lawsuit was filed by the governments of Hungary and Slovakia in response to the 2015 resolution of the European Council ordering the relocation of some 120,000 asylum-seekers across the EU in order to relieve Greece and Italy. Amidst the height of the migration crisis in June 2015, leaders of the EU countries decided that every member state would accept some of 40,000 asylum-seekers on a voluntary basis. Hungary did not make an offer. At the end of September, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council decided to increase the total number of asylum-seekers to be relocated to 120,000, and made it compulsory on member states to accept them according to a predefined quota system that took member states’ population and economy into account. Hungary would have had to evaluate 1294 asylum applications.

Slovakia and Hungary, like the Czech Republic and Romania, voted against the adoption of the decision in the Council. Petitioning the European Court of Justice to annul the decision, the two Central European States argued that the decision was fraught with procedural errors, and was neither warranted nor a suitable response to the migrant crisis.

As the Council’s decision had already been final regardless of the ongoing lawsuit, Hungary should have already had to start evaluating asylum applications. The European Commission has already started infringement procedures against Hungary that are likely to lead to another European Court of Justice lawsuit and a fine.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared at the Bálványos Open University and Student Camp in July that Hungary would not execute the resolution regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit.  In theory, the Hungarian Constitutional Court has the ability to take up the matter of the resolution, but this would put the Hungarian government in a very uncomfortable position in the EU and could lead to Fidesz’s expulsion from the European People’s Party. The leader of the European People’s Party Manfred Weber has already warned Orbán to “respect the asylum-seeker relocation resolution”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szíjjártó called the European Court of Justice’s ruling “outrageous and irresponsible”, and said, “it endangers the security and future of the whole of Europe.” According to Szíjjártó, the decision was not based on legal or professional standpoints but on political ones and that “politics has raped law and European principles”. Szíjjártó also called the decision “completely unacceptable” and vowed that “the real battle is just commencing”.