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CJEU rules against Hungary in mandatory relocation case

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Thursday ruled that Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic failed to fulfill their obligations under EU law by refusing to comply with a mandatory relocation scheme for asylum seekers, state news wire MTI reports.

The court noted in a press release that Hungary had not at any point indicated a number of persons who could be relocated to its territory following the decision adopted by the Council in 2015 on the mandatory relocation of 120,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU member states.

The European Commission launched infringement procedures against Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic over the matter in 2017 and later referred the cases to the CJEU.

 Hungary argued that it was entitled to disapply the relocation decision by virtue of Article 72 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU which states that provisions on asylum policy shall "not affect the exercise of the responsibilities incumbent upon member states with regard to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security".

 But the CJEU said Article 72, strictly interpreted, "does not confer on member states the power to depart from the provisions of European Union law based on no more than reliance on the interests linked to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security, but requires them to prove that it is necessary to have recourse to that derogation in order to exercise their responsibilities on those matters".

Hungary had also argued that the mandatory relocation scheme ended in September 2017, thus it could no longer remedy the alleged infringements.

But the CJEU ruled that "a declaration as to the failure to fulfill obligations is still of substantive interest, inter alia, as establishing the basis of a responsibility that a member state can incur, as a result of its default, as regards other member states of the European Union or private parties".