Prague says top EU court verdict will not change country’s stand on migrant quotas

Photo: Fotomovimiento, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The European Court of Justice has dismissed Slovakia and Hungary’s legal challenge to the system of mandatory migrant quotas, devised by the European Commission as a means of dealing with the migrant crisis. The Czech Republic, which is also one of the countries rejecting the forced distribution of migrants, says the ruling will make no difference to its stand.

Photo: Fotomovimiento,  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The ruling of the EU’s highest court on the mandatory redistribution of migrants around the EU sparked another heated exchange between the European Commission and the countries against which it has launched infringement proceedings over their failure to comply with the EU’s solidarity mechanism. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban called the decision “rape of European law and values,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said nobody could force Slovakia to take a step it considered to be wrong, and Poland and the Czech Republic, noted that the verdict would not change their policy on migrants.

In response to a warning from the EU commissioner for migrants, Dimitris Avramopoulos, for the said states to meet their obligations and implement EU solidarity in full or else the EC would take them to court, Czech officials pointed out that unlike Hungary and Slovakia they had not challenged the mandatory quota system as such, but had repeatedly stated that the system was simply not functional. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek:

“Our objections to this mechanism are based on the argument that it does not work in practice and we want to see it revised. We do not approve of the fact that we have this mechanism in the EU where countries are bound to go through the motions of providing data and numbers when in reality it is clear the requirements cannot be met.”

Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: Filip Jandourek
The Czech Republic, which has taken in only around 12 refugees of the close to 2,700 allotted to it under the EC mechanism, recently argued that Italy and Greece from which it was to take in migrants had not enabled it to carry out the detailed background investigation checks on the refugees in question. According to the Czech Interior Ministry the Italian and Greek authorities permitted only the most basic questions to be posed to refugees earmarked for relocation and eventually ceased communicating altogether.

“The conditions under which the system was to operate are simply not being met and the present debate in Europe on this matter shows that our reservations are justified,” Minister Zaorálek said.

Meanwhile, Czech President Miloš Zeman, known for his fiery anti-migrant rhetoric, said at a public gathering that the country should not give way to EU pressure.

“If the worst comes to the worst, then it would be better to forego EU subsidies than open the door to migrants.”