Spanish Supreme Court condemns government for failure to meet relocation target

13 July 2018

Brussels, 13 July 2018 – The Spanish Supreme Court condemned the government of Spain for falling significantly below its quota to relocate 19,449 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy between 2015 and 2017. The Court recalled the mandatory nature of the two Relocation Decisions adopted by the Council of the European Union in May and September 2015.

The judgement partially follows the suit filed by the NGO Stop Mare Mortum, who asked the Supreme Court to declare that the Council decisions contained clear and concrete obligations that the government had failed to respect. 

The ruling was based on a previous European Court of Justice judgement from 2017, which declared that the quotes and obligations included in the decisions are binding for all Member States. As a result, Hungary and Czech Republic were condemned when they refused to relocate any asylum seekers from Greece or Italy.

This ruling is important for several reasons:

  • It goes a step further than the previous judgement of the European Court of Justice considering Spain bound by the obligations of the Council’s decisions of 2015. It shows that proceedings can be brought against a government, not only for refusing to relocate asylum seekers, but also for failing to reach assigned quotas.

  • It underlines the role of solidarity as a key principle to ensure all EU Member States, particularly those at external borders, are loyal to their obligations under the Geneva Convention, Dublin Regulation and all other aspects of EU Asylum Law. It sets precedent that solidarity and burden-sharing responsibilities can be overseen and regulated by national judiciaries and civil society. 

  • It admits that the Commission’s failure to bring infringement procedures against Member States that have not fulfilled relocation quotas did not impede the Supreme Court’s assessment of those obligations.