Hungary and Slovakia criticize European Union decision on relocations

Slovakia and Hungary filed a complaint [text] arguing that it was illegal for Brussels to require them to take in hundreds of Syrian refugees and that it would destabilize their economies.

Beata Szydlo, the Polish prime minister, said: 'We expected this decision.

Hungarian and Polish leaders, in particular, often describe Muslim refugees as potential security threats. "Time to work in unity and implement solidarity in full", said EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

This is largely a result of a controversial deal the European Union signed with Turkey in March a year ago to send back migrants in return for billions of euros in aid and for admitting asylum seekers directly from refugee camps in Turkey.

Back in June, dismayed over the failure of some member states to accept asylum-seekers, the European Commission made a decision to send letters of formal notice to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, which are the first step toward opening cases against the countries for not living up to their legal obligations.

The EU's top court has rejected a challenge by Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia to a migrant relocation deal drawn up at the peak of the crisis in 2015.

Slovakia is not included in the legal action.

Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto slammed Wednesday's ruling - which is final an can not be appealed - calling it "appalling and irresponsible" and vowed to use all legal means against the judgement, which he said was "the result of a political decision".

Robert Fico told reporters on Wednesday "we fully respect the verdict of the European Court of Justice".

"Our stance towards the quotas has not changed", Fico said. All four countries also say migrants will disrupt their societies and the EU's focus should be on protecting its external borders.

Germany's foreign minister is welcoming the ruling by a European Union court that Hungary and Slovakia must participate in an EU plan to relocate refugees.

Avramopoulos said the ECJ's decision is encouraging and that he hoped to reach a final compromise by the end of the year. He said "solidarity is not a one-way street". We expect all European Union countries to respect and implement the ruling.

Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano tweeted "the European Court of Justice upheld our case: the redistribution of asylum seekers is compulsory in the #EU". "This decision jeopardises the security and future of all of Europe". The migrant crisis is getting stronger despite many fences constructed between the countries inside the EU.

The low level of relocations, the ECJ noted, was partly due to "the lack of cooperation on the part of certain member states".

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

The commission said on Wednesday that 27,695 asylum seekers have been relocated so far from Greece (19,244) and Italy (8,451).

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called migration the "Trojan Horse of terrorism".

  • David Armstrong