Europe's top court ruled on Thursday (April 2) that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic had broken the law by refusing to host refugees to help ease the burden on southern states after a surge in migrant arrivals from 2015.
The governments of each state cited national security reasons in refusing to take in any refugees and migrants who had fled the Middle East and North Africa.
Italy and Greece complained about the lack of European solidarity as they struggled with mass arrivals, overwhelming their security and welfare systems. Germany also criticized the east for refusing to help while continuing to benefit from generous EU financial aid.
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, says it's a significant ruling.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT, URSULA VON DER LEYEN, SAYING: "All member states were required to participate in a temporary relocation scheme.
Hungary, Poland and Czechia did not and today the court found that, as a consequence, they did not fulfil their obligations.
This ruling is important.
It is referring to the past but it will give us guidance to the future." The EU has since cracked down on immigration since 2015, fortifying its external borders and offering support to countries including Turkey to help prevent migrants from heading to Europe.
The three states face no immediate penalty.