Hungary calls European Union court's refugee ruling 'appalling'

August to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit Angelos Tzortzinis  Agence France Presse — Getty Ima

The European Commission has threatened to take EU member states who do not accept the bloc's asylum seeker quotas to court.

The EU's top court on Wednesday dismissed a challenge by Slovakia and Hungary over the bloc's mandatory refugee quota program, an issue that has divided eastern European states from other members.

Hungary and Poland have refused to accept any of the refugees, while Slovakia has taken in only a few.

'This decision practically and openly legitimates the power of the European Union above the member states'.

Hungary's government built security fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia two years ago to stop refugees and migrants entering the country along the so-called "Balkan route" from Turkey to Germany.

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country respected the court's judgement, adding, however, that its critical stance on the quota system and the migrants "has not changed at all".

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Wednesday that "the EU-Turkey statement continues to work and deliver results".

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the current system of quotas for resettling refugees is proportionate, amid protests by east European states that cite culture clashes and terrorist attacks.

As Deutsche Welle reports, "Only 24,000. refugees from Greece and Italy have been transferred to other states".

Fico says the 2015 plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy over two years was a temporary solution that will cease to be effective on Sept 26.

However, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto slammed the verdict as "irresponsible", saying it "threatens the security of all of Europe".

"The real battle is only just beginning, and Hungary will be making use of all opportunities for legal redress to ensure that nobody can be relocated to Hungary against the wishes of the Hungarian people", Mr Szijjarto said.

He said the slow pace of relocation "draws attention to significant gaps in the EU's response to the biggest refugee crisis on the continent since World War II".

Human rights groups have criticized Hungary and Poland for their reluctance to take in any refugees.

"If we push it through above their heads, they will use it in their anti-EU propaganda at home", another European Union diplomat said of Poland and Hungary, where the nationalist-minded governments are embroiled in disputes with Brussels over democratic rules.

The EU executive is now believed to be ready to institute court proceedings within weeks that could lead to fines for member states not complying with the scheme.

While Brussels has insisted the move is necessary to help deal with the 1.6 million people who arrived in Greece and Italy since 2014, the countries say it is not their responsibility.

The programme is considered a key part of the EU's migration policy.

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