Hungary and Slovakia's mandatory refugee quota lawsuit dismissed
The top EU court's adviser said on Wednesday that a case brought by Slovakia and Hungary challenging the obligatory relocation of asylum seekers across the bloc should be dismissed.
The two eastern EU states -- backed by neighbour Poland -- had argued that the EU's 2015 scheme to have each member state host a certain number of refugees was unlawful. The programme was designed to help ease pressure on asylum systems in Greece and Italy after mass arrivals across the Mediterranean.
But the court's Advocate General Yves Bot rejected most of the procedural arguments presented by Bratislava and Budapest and said the resettlement scheme was appropriate.
"The contested decision automatically helps to relieve the considerable pressure on the asylum systems of Italy and Greece following the migration crisis in the summer of 2015 and... is thus appropriate for attaining the objective which it pursues," he said.
The nationalist-minded, eurosceptic governments in Warsaw and Budapest have refused to take in a single asylum-seeker under the EU scheme. Slovakia and the Czech Republic have also stalled, citing security concerns after a raft of Islamist attacks in the EU in recent years.
Their reluctance to help the two southern frontline states, as well as wealthier EU countries such as Germany, which has taken in hundreds of thousands of migrants, have precipitated bitter disputes in the bloc and weakened its unity.
A final ECJ ruling is expected after the summer break. The Court does not have to but generally does follow the advisory opinion of the Advocate General.
Slovakia and Hungary brought a lawsuit against the European Union in December 2015.
During a hearing in the case in May, the two countries argued that the EU acted too hastily and broke its own rules when the decision was adopted.
Despite the binding EU decision, many countries have been slow to provide commitments to resettle refugees from Italy and Greece. So far, just under 21,000 people have been relocated from the two countries.
Hungary, which is supposed to accept almost 1,300 refugees under the relocation scheme, has not offered to take any refugees yet. Slovakia, which should accept about 900 people, has only received 16 migrants from Greece.