The European Union’s highest court on Thursday ruled that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland failed to fulfil their legal obligations in 2015 by refusing to accept an “appropriate” number of asylum seekers who had arrived in Greece and Italy.
The 160,000 people, many fleeing war in Iraq and Syria, were to have been found places across most of the EU member states to ease pressure on the countries that were the point of arrival.
The Czech Republic took in just 12 people. The other two countries appear to have taken none.
Although the ruling by the European Court of Justice is considered final, and fines are a possibility, the relocation programme lapsed in 2017, so it will be up to the European Commission – the executive arm of the European Union – to decide how to proceed. Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the commission, said it is working on a new migration pact that will outline the responsibilities of European countries. “This ruling is important,” she said. “It is referring to the past but it will give us guidance for the future.”