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08/12/2016

Hungary prepares to back Slovak legal challenge against EU refugee deal

Europe's East

Hungary prepares to back Slovak legal challenge against EU refugee deal

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban 'lost' the referendum, but is changing the constitution.

[European People's Party/Flickr]

Hungary will ask the European Commission to call off its decision on the distribution of refugees. The motion may have little support in the EU, but it is a clear statement of Budapest’s determination. EurActiv France reports

The Hungarian government has taken the first step towards joining Slovakia in its challenge of the EU’s position on the refugee crisis at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia and a member of the Party of European Socialists, announced plans in October to file a complaint against the European Council on the subject.

The decision to distribute the refugees currently in Italy and Greece across the other 26 EU countries was adopted by a majority of member states, following tough negotiations. But Slovakia complained that the decision should have been taken unanimously.

The Slovakian complaint

According to a Hungarian diplomatic source, Budapest is seriously considering adding its voice to the Slovakian complaint, or lodging its own complaint to the CJEU.

The two member states have until 18 December to finalise their course of action, as any legal action must be launched within two months of the decision it is challenging.

The Party of European Socialists has threatened to expel Robert Fico if he goes ahead with his challenge. But with national elections due to take place next spring, this is a threat the Slovakian leader may choose to ignore.

>>Read: Slovakia pushes ahead with legal action over EU refugee quotas

Budapest has shown a similar determination on the subject, but using different means. A motion calling on the European Commission to cancel it refugee distribution plan, on the grounds that it contravenes the principle of subsidiarity, passed through the Hungarian parliament with a large majority on Tuesday (3 November).

Hungarian resolution

Since the Lisbon Treaty, EU member states can ask the Commission to reverse its decisions if they can prove that the matter could be handled more efficiently at a national level. The parliaments of at least ten member states must support this process, if it is to take place.

So Hungary’s resolution has little chance of forcing the European executive to change its course. But for Viktor Orbán’s freshly re-elected government, this was none the less an important muscle-flexing exercise. The resolution was passed by 141 votes to 27, with one abstention.

The right wing Fidesz party was supported by the extreme right Jobbik party, and the parliament broadly supported the statements of Antal Rogan, the prime minister’s head of cabinet, who presented the resolution.

“Based on the estimated arrival of 1.2 million refugees, Hungary would have to take in 15,000 people each year,” the former Fidesz leader told the Hungarian parliament.