EU’s refugee relocation plan faces legal reckoning

BRUSSELS: The EU's top court rules on Wednesday (Sep 4) on the legality of a controversial quota scheme that Brussels launched two years ago to force member states to admit thousands of asylum seekers.The European

BRUSSELS: The EU’s top court rules on Wednesday (Sep 4) on the legality of a controversial quota scheme that Brussels launched two years ago to force member states to admit thousands of asylum seekers.The European Court of Justice will issue its verdict on a legal challenge that Hungary and Slovakia lodged against the scheme that requires bloc members to take in Syrians and others from overstretched Greece and Italy.

The European Union approved the scheme as part of efforts to boost EU solidarity and end the chaos generated by Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.

The Luxembourg-based court’s senior lawyer Yves Bot recommended in July that the judges throw out the challenge, arguing the so-called relocation scheme was a proportionate means to help Greece and Italy.

The court often follows such opinions but not always.

At stake is the EU’s legal authority to take joint action to ease an unprecedented crisis and override opposition from a minority of member states.

In this case, eastern member states rejected the plan on grounds they lack the capacity to integrate foreigners, most of them Muslim.

‘LEGALLY BINDING’

No matter the outcome of the court case, the scheme has been troubled from the start.

EU figures show that just under 28,000 people have been relocated since a majority of member states agreed in September 2015 to relocate 160,000 Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean asylum seekers from Italy and Greece by September this year.

Officials in Brussels have argued the scheme is legally binding on all member states, including those who voted against the quotas like Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania.

Under the plan, Hungary must admit more than 2,300 asylum seekers, while Slovakia must in the long term take in 1,400.

But in June, the European Commission, the 28-nation EU executive, launched legal action against Poland and Hungary for having failed to admit any asylum seekers.

 

It also took legal action against the Czech Republic for having stopped taking them but spared Slovakia which agreed to take a handful of them.

Although it voted for it, Poland has come out strongly against the plan since a right-wing government came to power.

The EU action – which would be bolstered by a favourable ruling in Luxembourg – could see the three countries referred to the Court of Justice and given stiff financial penalties.

Other EU member states have dragged their feet despite having voted for the plan.

‘DISAPPOINTMENT’

In June, Filippo Grandi, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, called the relocation plan a “disappointment” where only a handful of countries on a wealthy continent were fulfilling their duty to asylum seekers.

He singled out Greece, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Austria.

European sources have blamed the delays on governments trying to screen militants in the wake of terror attacks, a lack of housing and education for asylum seekers, and logistical problems.

With the relocation scheme struggling to lift off, many Syrians and others in Greece and Italy have travelled with smugglers to wealthier northern countries like Germany and Sweden.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has called the relocation plan a “disappointment”. (Photo: AFP/Yuri Cortez)

Brussels launched the relocation scheme in September 2015, the year more than one million migrants arrived in Europe by sea.

It was introduced as an exception to so-called Dublin rules under which migrants must apply for asylum in the member state where they first land.

Under international and European law, countries are required to grant asylum to people fleeing war or persecution but not those classed as economic migrants.

Political pressures have eased since March last year when the EU signed a deal with Turkey to send back migrants in return for billions of euros in aid and for admitting asylum seekers directly from refugee camps in Turkey.

The controversial deal sharply cut the flow across the Aegean Sea to Greece, which had been the main point of entry to Europe.

Other routes have since seen a resurgence in migrants, including via Libya to Italy as well as Morocco to Spain. The EU deems most people coming from sub-Saharan Africa as economic migrants.

More than 14,000 people have died attempting to reach Europe since 2014.

Source: AFP/ec

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9 COMMENTS
  • Beraki T. September 5, 2017

    Poor Eritreans think whites would always feed them with milk {creamy} and honey {as they arrogantly think as super race and humans} and never bullets or fists.
    If Eritrean children suffer it is their fault of being colonized by European powers.
    They {Eritreans} conveniently forgot that Ethiopia {King Menelik 1} sold them and their ports to the Italians for cash and arms. These people now unashamedly feel white Europeans had the obligation to give them luxury refuge!!!!
    The super-inflated ego and arrogance of Eritreans, totally detached from the reality coming to awake them fast!!

  • hey test September 5, 2017

    hey test

  • Semere September 5, 2017

    ብመንፈሰ ኬኒሻ፣ ካቶሊክ፣ ሀሶት አስመራ፣ ጽልዋ ፋሺስቲ ጣልያን፣ ጽልዋ አረብ በልዮም መንነቶም ከም አረጊት ክዳን ደርብዮም፤ አብሊኡ፣ አስቲዩ፣ ደቁ ሂቡ ንዛአወቶም ሕዝቢ ኪህዶም — ን 30-ዓመታት ዛህለፎ ሞት፤ስደት፤ ማስቃ ከይአክሎ ሂዚ ንፀላእቲ አምሃራ ሻዕብያ ባዕሉ ተኪኡ ሕዝብና ያጽንቶሎ፡፡ እወ! ሕግን ሥርዓትን እንተዝህሉ ፤ ሕዝብና ነዚ ኩሉ ማዕለያ ዘያብሉ ስደትን መከራን መዐዝ ኪሳጣህ ነይሩ???

    • Yitbarekh September 5, 2017

      Yes indeed brother Semere, if it was not for the great help (including heavy sacrifices) of the Tigrayan brothers and sisters, the Eritrean so-called independence (slavery) would have taken another 30 yrs to succeed. However, the ultimate freedom and the best thing for Eritrea is when we all free ourselves up to deal with today’s reality on the ground.
      Brother Semere, many Eritreans with exceptional intelligence know already deep inside their heart that it is the Christian Ethiopians (and mainly our brothers and sisters of Tigray)who will be there to save the Eritrean Christian highlanders when the Muslim Arabs come to attack and invade Eritrea. Only a very few sold outs and the terrorist flip-flop Muslims would deny this fact.

      • kokhob September 6, 2017

        I agree very much with this comment.
        And the very few sold outs and “tebeletsiti” opportunists are the terfmeref ELF losers.
        I don’t think the common and sensible Eritreans see Ethiopians as their enemies like the Higdef and ELF cadres are preaching day in day out, or else Ethiopia wouldn’t be the choice of their destination for tens of thousands Eritreans.
        It is time to focus on the backward Islamic Arabs barbarism and explotation issues.

  • Sol September 5, 2017

    Aytbarekh Semerer/Tekhlay

    ኣንታ ተኽላይ ተስፋ ኣይትቆርጽ ዲኻ ኣሰና ኣዝማሪኖ ኣይኮነትን ነፍስኻ ዘሕሰርካ እንተኣሕሰርካያ ኣሰና ናይ መናቖትን መጻረፍን ክትከውን ማለት ሕልሚ ሰይጣን ኣብ ገነት ስለዝኾነ ነቶም ኣስራሕትኻ በቓ ፈሺለ በሎም

    • kokhob September 6, 2017

      Sol the Somali war lord,
      You are some ugly monkey, aren’t you?
      Now, go and keep jumping on your deceiving trees. Simply keep your Mohammeds & Alis nicks.
      Don’t be ashamed or scared of your identity and your “Tigrayan language & background”!!!!
      Why the hell are you so confused and lost with the alien Arabic language and identity???
      The backward and barbarian Arab slave masters and evil sponsors only use and dump you like a used up condoms. Wake up and smell the delicious Ethiopian/Habeshas coffee!!!!

      • Dawit September 6, 2017

        Dear Kokhob,
        Don’t forget that Sol’s (Mohammed’s) other muslim families in Shire/Sheraro – Tigray, Gojam, Gonder or in other part of Ethiopia are not as confused and suffering from severe identity crisis as the “pure Eritrean” Sol/Mohammed. His remaining family in Shire/Sheraro – Tigray never ask for shitty Arabic language to become an official language in Ethiopia. Nor do they ask to be identified as Arabs but as genuine Tigrayans and Ethiopians. With poor ignorant people like Sol (Mohammed) and his likes are probably manipulated/twisted by the old twisted mafia groups of ELF shitty.

  • Lingo September 6, 2017

    Dawit, no matter what, there is one thing Christian Highland Eritreans should never accept if they want to keep Eritrea as a nation, and that is the recognition of the Arabic as an official language of the country. This Arabic language is meant to unite the different Muslim ethnic groups in the country in order to undermine the existence and power of highland Eritreans and eventually to dominate the nation (Muslim’s day dreamers).
    I would never hesitate to advocate for the separation of highland Eritreans from the rest of the country if the Arabic language is given an official language status. Of course, that is after the demise of the lawless black mafia PFDJ. The Muslims could always go back to their Sudanese people and enjoy the Arabic language with the shisha pipes.

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