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25/07/2016

Slovakia pushes ahead with legal action over EU refugee quotas

Justice & Home Affairs

Slovakia pushes ahead with legal action over EU refugee quotas

Robert Fico [European Council]

Slovkia agreed on Wednesday (30 September) to take legal action at the European Court of Justice against the EU plan to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers, Prime Minister Robert Fico said yesterday. EurActiv Slovakia reports.

Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania had opposed the mandatory quotas for redistributing asylum seekers from Italy and Greece but the group was outvoted at a meeting of EU interior ministers earlier this month.

>>Read: EU backs refugee plan in teeth of east European opposition

The government has not dealt with the content of the complaint, but rather just formally adopted the decision to pursue it, mandating legal experts to provide the wording. The move doesn’t need validation by the parliament.

“If I am against something, I will complete things,” he was quoted as saying.

The government decision cites the article 263 of the TFEU, which says:

“The Court of Justice of the European Union shall review the legality of legislative acts, of acts of the Council, of the Commission and of the European Central Bank, other than recommendations and opinions, and of acts of the European Parliament and of the European Council intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties. It shall also review the legality of acts of bodies, offices or agencies of the Union intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties.

It shall for this purpose have jurisdiction in actions brought by a Member State, the European Parliament, the Council or the Commission on grounds of lack of competence, infringement of an essential procedural requirement, infringement of the Treaties or of any rule of law relating to their application, or misuse of powers.”

Fico has questioned the fact that the redistribution scheme was agreed by qualified majority vote (QMV), while in his opinion it should have been decided in the European Council, where he could have used its veto power.

The opposition parties, while in principle united with reservation against relocation scheme, disagree with the legal action. They say the move will damage the reputation of Slovakia and accuse the government of leading the country towards isolation in Europe.

Slovakia will assume the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from July to December 2016.

But polls suggest that the popularity of Fico´s party, the centre-left SMER-SD seems to be rising in as a result of his firm stance towards the refugees. Slovakia has still five months to go to general elections.

A very small margin in the electoral result can actually decide whether Fico will be once again able to form government alone, without needing a coalition partner.