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European Union wins legal battle on refugee quotas

European Union wins legal battle on refugee quotas

In a strongly worded ruling, the European Court of Justice said that the EU was within its rights to order members to take in refugees from Greece and Italy, where almost 200,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, remain stranded amid a grinding migration crisis.

The European court of justice on Wednesday, September 6, dismissed the appeal filed by the governments of Slovakia and Hungary, who demanded to annul the decision of the European Union on the allocation of quotas for refugees among member countries of the EU.

The mechanism helps frontier countries like Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis, and the European Union court said the action was proportionate.

Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania opposed the plan, arguing they were not equipped to integrate people from mainly Muslim countries.

"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. The fences have mostly stopped migrants from passing through Hungary on their way to Western Europe but Hungary has also greatly reduced the chances for asylum-seekers to submit applications in the country.

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country respected the court's judgement, adding, however, that its critical stance on the quota system and the migrants "has not changed at all".

Kati Piri, a member of the European Parliament for the Netherlands, predicted that disputes over migration will continue in the bloc regardless of the ECJ's ruling.

According to the ECJ, Poland intervened on Hungary's behalf in the court battle.

European Union wins legal battle on refugee quotas

Only 24,000 of 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy have been transferred to other states under the EU's refugee burden sharing policy.

According to the United Nations refugee agency, 125,240 refugees have made the Mediterranean crossing to Europe so far this year - mainly to Italy and Greece.

Sigmar Gabriel said Wednesday the European Court of Justice's ruling confirms that the solidarity approved by EU leaders is not just in keeping with European values but also adheres fully to European law.

INSIDE STORY: What's the EU's vision to address the refugee crisis? .

"The decision puts at risk the security of all of Europe and the future of all of Europe as well", Szijjarto said, calling the ruling "contrary to the interests of the European nations, including Hungary".

Human rights groups have criticized Hungary and Poland for their reluctance to take in any refugees.

The court said that it had "dismissed in its entirety the actions brought by" the two member states.

The programme is considered a key part of the EU's migration policy.