In an emergency movement in 2015, EU countries agreed to relocate up to 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece as these two countries declined in number of arrivals. Five years later, Greece is still struggling to manage this burden, with thousands of people detained in deplorable conditions on the Greek islands.
The decision on the “temporary relocation mechanism” was taken in a vote requiring a two-thirds majority of the EU-28 member states at the time. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were among a small group of nations that voted against this decision.
In the end, only around 40,000 refugees were resettled. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have seen virtually no results in the two years of the regime’s existence. The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, asked for explanations but did not give satisfactory answers.
In its decision, the European Court of Justice declared that “by refusing to comply with the temporary relocation mechanism for applicants for international protection, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfill their obligations under law of the European Union”.
The three had argued that the EU countries were solely responsible for public security and not the commission, which had worked out the quota system and sued the countries.
But the Luxembourg-based CJE said it “cannot count on their responsibilities for maintaining public order and safeguarding internal security, nor on the alleged malfunction of the relocation mechanism to avoid implementing this mechanism ”.
The failure of nations to take part in a burden-sharing measure to help EU partners in distress was at the heart of one of the bloc’s biggest political crises. The immigration issue then became a big winner for the far-right parties.