Past Wednesday, the European Court of Justice rejected Hungary’s and Slovakia’s challenge to the European Council’s decision on a compulsory migrant resettlement quota. While the ruling was not a total surprise it represents a dangerous precedent, goes against the will of European citizens and exemplifies the way in which EU institutions usurp powers that rightfully belong to the Member States. While Hungary acknowledges the decision, we will continue to oppose efforts to take away from the Member States what is a national competence, the authority to decide on immigration matters.
Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and Minister of Justice László Trócsányi called the ruling a political decision. “The battle is only beginning,” they said.
During a radio interview late last week, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán affirmed that Hungary adheres to the treaties of the European Union and therefore acknowledges the ruling of the court. He also explained what this “battle” is all about.
It is not about the circa 1200 persons that the European Commission would want to require Hungary to resettle. It’s about a significant national competence – immigration policy – being taken away from the Member States.
Prime Minister Orbán recalled that in 2015, the European Council came to a decision that resettlement quotas shall only be on a voluntary basis, yet the European Commission went around that decision and pushed through a mandatory quota system.
“In contravention of the founding treaties,” said Minister Szijjártó, “the ruling asserts the power of the European Commission over EU Member States.”
Now that the European Court of Justice has dismissed Hungary’s and Slovakia’s challenge to the decision-making mechanism (in Joined Cases C 643/15 and C-647/15 Slovakia and Hungary v Council), the time has come to look hard at whether the decision can be implemented at all.
“Next will come the debate about whether the Commission’s decision can or cannot be realized,” said Prime Minister Orbán last week. “Until this point, we carried out a legal battle. From this point on, we will have to fight a political battle.”
Hungary will not change its immigration policy. It is up to the Hungarian people, and their government, to decide who gets to live in Hungary.