Hungary joins Slovakia in launching legal action against EU migrant quotas

Hungary joins Slovakia in launching legal action against EU migrant quotas
By bne IntelliNews November 17, 2015

Hungary plans to follow in the footsteps of neighbouring Slovakia by launching a legal challenge to the EU's mandatory quotas on migrants. The move comes as populist leaders in Central Europe look to leverage the horror in Paris to promote the idea that terrorism is linked to the current wave of refugees. 

The Hungarian parliament passed a bill on November 17 paving the way for the government to launch legal action against the EU plan to introduce a quota system to redistribute refugees among member states. The lawsuit will be filed at European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in early December, Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi said, according to MTI.

According to the bill, approved by 141 lawmakers with 41 voting against and one abstention, the quota plan - agreed by the EU in September via a rare majority, rather than unanimous, vote - violates the principle of subsidiarity and fails to grant national parliaments the opportunity to express their opinion. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia were the only states to vote against the scheme

Trocsanyi claimed the plan goes against the will of the majority of Europe’s citizens, and violates Hungary’s sovereignty. Each state should be allowed to decide who it allows into the country, he said.

The justice minister spoke the day after his boss, Prime Minister Viktor Orban leapt to make sure he remains the "scourge of the EU",  as he called himself recently. His longstanding resistance to the EU's efforts to redistribute 160,000 migrants fleeing violence in states including Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea, and Hungary's building of a fence on its southern borders, have attracted huge international criticism, similarly to his lean towards Russian through the Ukraine crisis. 

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, Poland and Slovakia took the opportunity to reiterate their opposition to the EU plan to relocate 160,000 migrants across the bloc, and link it once again to the raised threat of terrorism. Orban, whose previously dwindling domestic political support has climbed on the back of a vicious campaign against immigration throughout the year, was quick to follow up.

While others in the region have suggested there are links between the migrants and terrorism, the Hungarian leader was keen not to beat around the bush, stating starkly that the EU plan to distribute migrants will spread terrorism. 

“What is humane? Closing the borders to illegal invaders or risking the lives of innocent Europeans?” he asked in the Hungarian parliament on November 16. “Now even those who have lived in the delusion of multiculturalism and have wanted to impose it upon us can see where all that leads." 

Trocsanyi said he expects other countries that oppose the quotas to join Hungary’s legal action. Slovakia has already said it will sue EU over the plan. While Poland did not vote against the plan, the populist and nationalist Law & Justice (PiS) has since taken power, and has wasted little time in offering the EU - as well as neighbours such as Germany - signs that it will prove a much more prickly partner than its liberal predecessor.