İrem UZUN -TDO- The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic broke European law when they failed to give refuge to asylum seekers arriving in southern Europe, often having fled war in Syria and Iraq. Issuing its judgment on Thursday, the Court said the three member states “had failed to fulfil their obligations under European Union law”. "Those Member States can rely neither on their responsibilities concerning the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security, nor on the alleged malfunctioning of the relocation mechanism to avoid implementing that mechanism," it stressed.

In September 2015 European ministers adopted a resolution on the temporary relocation of 120,000 asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU member states in order to ease the pressure on local authorities. The relocation scheme assigned quotas to the EU member states and targeted mainly asylum seekers who had fled from Syria's devastating civil war. EU member states were supposed to relocate a certain number of asylum-seeker based on the given country’s size and economic situation – for example, Hungary’s quota was 1,294 people. Despite the compulsory nature of the decision the Czech Republic took in just 12 asylum seekers, while Hungary and Poland refused to take a single person.

The ECJ dismissed the countries' argument that the non-EU migrants could pose a security threat. That argument, the judges said, could only be applied in relation to a specific applicant, not to a whole group.  Italy and Greece have long accused other EU member states of a lack of solidarity for taking only relatively small groups of refugees from the temporary camps, which were hastily erected in the migrant crisis of 2015.

In theory, the three countries are now obliged to execute the decision, but this is no longer possible, as the situation of the 120,000 asylum-seekers has since been resolved. In a separate procedure, the European Commission can ask the court to impose financial sanctions on the three states.

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