Hungary plans to ignore ECJ ruling

The ECJ has rejected the complaint lodged by Hungary and Slovakia against the quotas established in 2015 for redistributing refugees. Bratislava plans to accept the ruling, while Budapest has announced that it won't comply. What consequences will the ruling have for refugee policy and the EU's conduct towards Hungary?

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Time for the "nuclear option"

The EU must initiate proceedings against Hungary under Article 7 of the EU treaty even if Poland will no doubt try to hinder the move initially by withholding its vote, the Süddeutsche Zeitung urges:

“Poland votes against imposing EU sanctions on Hungary, and Hungary votes against imposing EU sanctions on Poland. This offensive alliance can be countered by initiating proceedings for violation of the rule of law against Hungary and Poland in parallel and at the same time [because then both would lose their right of veto]. Poland has even done more to undermine the separation of powers than Hungary. In EU legal jargon, initiating proceedings against Poland and Hungary at the same time is known as the 'nuclear option'. That sounds highly dangerous, but it's meant entirely differently: the idea is to defend the nucleus, the very core of the European Union.”

Magyar Idők (HU) /

Western Europe distributing its old sins

The former colonial powers are now forcing the entire EU to atone for their past crimes, the pro-government daily Magyar Idők comments:

“Western Europe once created huge colonial empires. Britain, Spain, Holland, Belgium and Italy all had colonies. These countries ruthlessly destroyed the cultures and civilisations in their colonies, massacred the local populations, carted off the treasures, raw materials and all valuables and kept the remaining dwellers as slaves. ... Now, however, the former colonies have set out to present their erstwhile slave drivers with the bill. But the most shameful thing is that the West has now decided to distribute its own dirt and sins across the entire EU. That's unlawful and despicable.”

Český rozhlas (CZ) /

Decision will have consequences for Prague

The ruling will also have an impact on Czech policy, public radio broadcaster Český rozhlas points out:

“Now nothing more stands in the way of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary being sued before the European Court of Justice for failing to fulfil their refugee quotas. This will fuel the anti-European mood ahead of the elections [in October 2017]. Judging by the reactions to the ruling, a change of attitude is not to be expected in the countries in question. ... The court in Luxembourg has also confirmed that the interior ministers of the EU member states can decide the quotas by a qualified majority. A proposal by the Commission for fixed quotas has been on the table in the member states since last year. If this leads to a crucial vote, it's easy to imagine what the result for the Czech Republic will be.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

ECJ Ruling is not a real victory

The proponents of refugee quotas shouldn't get too excited about the ECJ's ruling, Le Quotidien warns:

“The EU judges' ruling is more of a pyrrhic victory. It was pronounced less than three weeks before the two-year deadline for the distribution of 160,000 refugees expires. And so far only 28,000 persons have been relocated from Greece and Italy. A ridiculous figure in view of the support 500 million Europeans should have offered to those fleeing war.” (DE) /

Now no one can evade responsibility anymore

With this judgement the idea of fair distribution has been given a legal basis, comments enthusiastically:

“It's intolerable that only a few EU countries like Sweden and Germany have taken in most of the refugees, while others have ducked out of their responsibility for domestic political reasons. Now something has to be done: Hungary and Slovakia must comply with the ruling. This also goes for Poland and the Czech Republic, which totally rejected quotas. Europe's highest court has made it clear that all EU countries must take in the quota of refugees assigned to them. There's plenty of catching up to do now - and not just in Eastern Europe. Many other European countries haven't come close to fulfilling their quota yet. After this ruling that will finally have to change!”

Mandiner (HU) /

Europe building castles in the air

The EU's insistence on the delusive distribution of refugees will paralyse it in the long term, journalist Gellért Rajcsányi writes in Mandiner:

“The migrants mainly want to get to Western Europe, and to Germany and Sweden in particular. It's hard to believe they will want to remain in some run-down city in eastern Bulgaria, in rural Romania or in the backward north-east of Hungary. In this context how does the EU plan to prevent illegal flows of refugees within its borders? ... When it comes to refugee quotas, we're talking about ideological castles in the air whose walls collapse every night, only to be rebuilt the next day. This errant course will unfortunately paralyse Europe in the long term.”

Pravda (SK) /

Bratislava's reaction is sensible

Slovakia's government plans to accept the judgement. The right decision, Pravda finds:

“The claims of our politicians that a few hundred Muslims could change our whole society, the unbearable Europhobia after every terrorist attack in Europe, and the attempts to exploit the people's fears for political purposes are something we must manage here at home. But from the EU's perspective we are not among the worst refuseniks. Therefore it is important that our political leaders - unlike those in Hungary, who have already started blustering - don't react angrily. ... No one really wants to increase the tensions now.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Unity of Visegrád states crumbling

The reactions of the two countries to the ruling highlight the difference between Hungary and Slovakia, Dnevnik observes:

“Slovakia is showing more willingness to cooperate and is less radical than Hungary. The EU Commission has launched proceedings against Hungary for not showing solidarity with Italy and Greece (and the refugees), but not against Slovakia (yet). The unity of the Visegrád states has suffered since yesterday's ruling. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are counting on Angela Merkel winning, whereas Hungary and Poland are still against Europe's liberal core and are returning to the past.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Eastern Europe feels left out

The winners of the case shouldn't start celebrating yet, Die Presse writes, pointing to the hurt pride of the states of Eastern Europe:

“A large part of the EU feels disconnected. That has to do on the one hand with the distribution of wealth, and on the other with a very real arrogance on the part of the West. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, for example, has hardly visited these countries at all, but he meets with Angela Merkel at every opportunity. With the exception of European Council President Donald Tusk, no top positions worth mentioning are held by Eastern Europeans. When on top of that the packaged food shipped to Eastern Europe contains less frozen fish than that shipped to the West, no one can expect these countries to make sacrifices in the name of solidarity.”