(CN) – Slovakia and Hungary lost a challenge Wednesday to EU regulations that would have them take in asylum seekers, taking the pressure off countries like Greece and Italy besieged by the 2015 migrant crisis.
Meant to last just two years, the measure adopted by the Council of the European Union calls for other EU member states to help relocate 120,000 migrants in need of international protection.
Slovakia and Hungary voted against the adoption of the contested decision in the council — as did the Czech Republic and Romania — and lobbied for annulment by the European Court of Justice.
The Court of Justice dismissed Slovakia and Hungary’s challenges in their entirety on Wednesday, finding support for the contested decision in Article 78(3) of the TFEU, short for Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
According to data from the EU’s border authority Frontex, the 137,000 irregular border crossings into Greece just in July and August 2015 represented an increase of 250 percent.
The EU as a whole saw 1.83 million irregular border crossings in 2015, according to Frontex data. The number was just 283,500 in 2014.
Eurostat reported meanwhile that almost 1.3 million migrants applied to the EU for international protection in 2015, up from 627,000 in the previous year.
Clocking in at 45 pages, an English translation of the ruling notes that the migrants principally came from the countries Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea.
“Due to the ongoing instability and conflicts in the immediate neighborhood of Italy and Greece, and the repercussions in migratory flows on other member states, it is very likely that a significant and increased pressure will continue to be put on their migration and asylum systems, with a significant proportion of the migrants who may be in need of international protection,” the Court of Justice found Wednesday. “This demonstrates the critical need to show solidarity towards Italy and Greece and to complement the actions taken so far to support them with provisional measures in the area of asylum and migration.”
Hungary complained that it should not have faced a migrant-relocation quota since it was in an emergency situation already based on the continued trouble it saw at its border with Croatia.
To this point, however, the Court of Justice noted that other countries like Sweden and Austria facing emergency situations lobbied for quota adjustments.
“The existence of those various adjustment mechanisms shows that the relocation mechanism for which the contested decision provides, taken as a whole, enables account to be taken, in a proportionate manner, of the particular situation of each Member State in this regard,” the ruling states.
Poland intervened in support of Slovakia and Hungary, but the court rejected its challenge which complained about the burden relocation has on its virtually ethnically homogenous population.
“If relocation were to be strictly conditional upon the existence of cultural or linguistic ties between each applicant for international protection and the Member State of relocation, the distribution of those applicants between all the Member States in accordance with the principle of solidarity laid down by Article 80 TFEU and, consequently, the adoption of a binding relocation mechanism would be impossible,” the ruling states.
The council was supported in the challenge by Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden and the European Commission.