The top European court’s advocate general said on Wednesday that the case launched by Slovakia and Hungary challenging the legality of the European Union‘s refugee resettlement scheme should be dismissed.
At the EU’s Luxembourg-based Court of Justice, Slovakia and Hungary have defended their refusal to take in asylum seekers, claiming the 2015 EU scheme to relocate refugees on a mandatory basis was unlawful.
The Advocate General Yves Bot said the resettlement scheme was “appropriate for attaining the objective which it pursues”.
“That mechanism is actually a proportionate means of enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis,” Bot said in a press release.
The advocate general does not tie the hands of judges but normally they uphold his opinion. It is expected that the judges will make a ruling in the autumn at the latest.
Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, said in response that the opinion of the top court’s adviser “completely fits with the process that is called the Soros plan”.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday on a different topic, Szijjártó said, referring to US financier George Soros: “With all the pomp of a head of state, Soros was received in Brussels and afterwards, interestingly, all European institutions put even greater pressure on Hungary and central European countries to receive illegal migrants.”
“We do not want to accept illegal migrants; we await for the court’s decision,” he added.
The minister said Hungary still regarded the decision on mandatory relocations of migrants according to a quota system as a violation of European law. He said Brussels did not have the right to deprive sovereign states of the right to decide whom to allow on to their territory. The European treaties clearly state that this right cannot be taken away, he added.
Szijjártó said it was the government’s first duty and obligation to protect Hungarians and ensure their safety. It will do everything in its power to make sure that illegal migrants “do not come here”, he added.
European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EC was ready to work with member states that currently oppose the resettlement scheme and address their concerns if they change their position.
“We are finally starting to see proper solidarity,” Avramopoulos said, and welcomed that more and more people were being relocated from Italy and Greece to other member states. But he regretted that some member states “continue to show no solidarity and to ignore our repeated calls to participate in this common effort”.
He noted that the commission on Wednesday initiated a new phase of the infringement procedures it started last month against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for rejecting the quota scheme. He justified the move with the fact that none of the member states in question had indicated that they would relocate a single asylum seeker to their territory and that none of the arguments they had put forward justified their failure to implement the resettlement scheme.
Justice ministry state secretary Pál Völner said in response that the European court, “like all EU institutions”, was “working to implement the Soros plan”.
He said the main elements of the advocate general’s statement were political in nature which were being used to “disguise the fact that there are no legal arguments” against Hungary’s case. Völner said the statement contained “forced legal arguments” but failed to refute Hungary’s arguments.
The state secretary said the government considers it encouraging that in three recent cases the court overruled the advocate general’s opinion.
Gergely Gulyás, the ruling Fidesz party’s deputy group leader, expressed his party’s support for the government’s fight against mandatory migrant quotas. He said Fidesz did not consider the case closed and expressed hope that the court would overrule the advocate general’s opinion.