Hungary files court challenge to EU migrant quotas: Official

BUDAPEST (AFP) - Hungary said on Thursday (Dec 3) it had filed a legal challenge to the European Union's plan to distribute 160,000 asylum-seekers among member states under a quota system.

"The case has been filed," justice ministry spokesman Gabor Kaleta told AFP.

The announcement came a day after fellow bloc member Slovakia also filed a lawsuit against the mandatory quotas at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Under the EU's quota system, both Budapest and Bratislava are expected to take in around 2,300 migrants each.

In September, Hungary had voted against the scheme together with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania at an EU meeting, revealing a deep split between western and eastern bloc members.

"It is not enough to protest, action must be taken," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday (Dec 3) shortly before the challenge was filed.

The right-wing leader has long taken a hard line against the migrants, saying that the influx of so many Muslims posed a security threat and threatened the continent's Christian identity.

"As long as this government is breathing, there won't be any quota, or any (failed asylum seekers) taken back," Orban said last month.

Nearly 860,000 migrants have landed in Europe so far this year, with many fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hungary was a key transit country for people trekking along the western Balkan route to reach northern Europe, until it sealed its southern borders with razor-wire fence to the migrants in October.