Statewatch News Online
Bookmark and Share  
Government must continue implementing EU refugee relocation scheme, rules Supreme Court
Follow us: | | Tweet

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that the country must continue to implement the EU's refugee relocation scheme, having relocated less than 13% of the 19,449 refugees in Italy and Greece that it was committed to under the rules that came into force in September 2015.

David Moya, a law professor at the University of Barcelona, has argued that following the Supreme Court judgment, "similar suits could be filed in other EU countries to force Governments through judicial suits and/or injunctions to reach those quotas or to look for equivalent remedies."

See the judgment: 1.168/2018 (9 July 2018, pdf) and the article by David Moya: Are National Governments Liable if They Miss Their Relocation Quota of Refugees? (Verfassungsblog, link)

"Last week, the Spanish Supreme Court declared that between 2015 and 2017 the Government of Spain had failed to relocate 19.449 refugees from Greece and Italy. The Court considered in its Judgement of 9th July of 2018 that Spain was bound by two Council Decisions of May and September 2015 establishing an EU Emergency Relocation Mechanism aimed at distributing some of the refugees that arrived at their coasts during the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ (see some key documents here). The relocation mechanism included a table with the number of refugees Member States were obliged to accommodate in their own international protection systems (‘quota’).

(...) the Court finds that Spain was not diligent enough in providing the relocation mechanism with sufficient and timely relocation options for the managers of the mechanism to send refugees relocated from Greece or Italy. The Court does not go further to admit – as the plaintiffs requested – that the Spanish Government acted in bad faith slowing down the process and disincentivizing the relocation to Spain, by providing each month purposefully insignificant numbers to avoid being sent larger groups of refugees. Nevertheless, the Court considers that the effort made by Spain was clearly insufficient to reach its 19.449 quota of refugees. Having relocated less than 13% of its quota, we could say that the Supreme Court was more than generous in considering it was only insufficient diligence instead of a tactic to slow down the relocation of refugees as the NGO tried to argue...

Summing up, the Spanish Supreme Court’s Judgement opens several questions and even some avenues of action that show transnational potential. First of all, it is reasonable to ask ourselves why the European Commission was so mild with the Member States given their overall low rates of fulfilment of their refugee quotas; more specifically, why did it not start infringement proceedings against the Member States that were most ineffective in supporting the relocation mechanism although it was asked to do so by several NGOs? And second, and more importantly, if the Spanish Supreme Court is right in its reasoning, similar suits could be filed in other EU countries to force Governments through judicial suits and/or injunctions to reach those quotas or to look for equivalent remedies. If that would be the case, Governments would be forced to stay loyal to their solidarity duties and to contribute in good faith to established mechanisms for burden sharing."

See also: Visegrad nations united against mandatory relocation quotas (EurActiv, link):

"When it comes to migration and refugees, the Visegrad 4 governments speak with one voice: the EU should abandon any idea of a compulsory mechanism for refugee relocation. EURACTIV’s network reports."

Further reading

End of the infamous EU refugee "relocation" scheme (27 February 2018)

Relocation of refugeees "reaches record levels"; proceedings against Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland continue (26 July 2017)

Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met (18 May 2017)

Support our work by making a one-off or regular donation to help us continue to monitor the state and civil liberties in Europe.
Search our database for more articles and information or subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates from Statewatch News Online.

We welcome contributions to News Online and comments on this website. E-mail us or send post to Statewatch c/o MayDay Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH.

Home | News Online | Journal | Observatories | Analyses | Database | SEMDOC | About Statewatch

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.