Slovakia to challenge refugee quotas in court, Hungary takes aim at EU budget
Four of the 28 EU countries voted against the quota system on Tuesday, with Finland abstaining. Slovakia, one of the loudest critics of the decision, which was advocated strongly by Germany and France, announced it would challenge it in court.
"We will go in two directions: first one, we will file a charge at the court in Luxembourg... secondly, we will not implement the (decision) of the interior ministers," the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico told reporters on Wednesday, before leaving for an EU leaders' summit in Brussels.
"We have been refusing this nonsense from the beginning, and as a sovereign country we have the right to sue," he added, saying his country would not submit to the quota as long as he leads it.
Slovakia, which has a population of 5.4 million, objects to the relocation of 120,000 migrants and refugees from Italy and Greece throughout the EU. It currently has only a small migrant community and the public opinion is against accepting Muslim asylum seekers, who make up the majority of those looking to enter Europe this year.
Fico called the decision passed by a rare vote, rather than the accepted unanimous vote by all EU member states, a "dictate of the majority" and said the plan fails to address the core issues of the refugee crisis.
This opinion was echoed on Wednesday by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said the EU should adjust its budget rather than impose relocation on member states. He suggested raising payments to the EU by members by 1 percent and cutting EU spending by 1 percent, saying this would produce three billion euros for addressing the crisis.
"We should repeat this as many times as necessary to have the amount of money that we need to handle the crisis," he told a meeting of Bavaria's Christian Social Union, the sister party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka was less confrontational in the aftermath of the vote, in which his country also said no to the quotas. However, he mentioned on Wednesday that he did not want to escalate tension within the block by legally challenging the decision.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Elsaesser, editor-in-chief of the German-based magazine Compact, told RT that the way the quota vote took place, threatens European unity, while it was also a “total nonsense” in practical terms.
“It won’t lead to any solution. It’s a kind of European Union dictatorship towards smaller members,” he said, speaking to RT. “Brussels tries to press them into accepting more refugees, but the people and the governments of these countries are not willing to do so. This will become a serious rift within the European Union.”
He added that Hungary is obeying the European Union rules and the wishes of its own people and that this makes the harsh criticism of its opposition to the quotas in the German media “absolutely insane”.