The European Commission decided on Thursday to refer Hungary to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for “non-compliance” with EU legislation on asylum and the return of migrants. The Commission has separately opened another infringement procedure against Budapest. Brussels sent Hungary a letter of formal notice about the new Hungarian legislation “which criminalises activities supporting asylum and residence applications and restricts the right to apply for asylum,” said Natasha Bertaud, an EU Commission spokesperson.
As regards asylum, the European executive opened a first infringement procedure in December 2015 and, in the absence of a satisfactory response from Budapest, sent a reasoned opinion (i.e a formal request to comply with the law of the EU) in December 2017. “After having analyzed the answer (…), the Commission considers that most of the concerns raised have still not been addressed and has therefore now decided to bring an action against Hungary before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU),” the Commission said a statement. This referral is the last step in the infringement procedure and could potentially lead to financial penalties.
Brussels criticises Budapest for failing to comply with EU legislation on asylum procedures in terms of access, guarantees and reception conditions. “The border procedure implemented by Hungary is not in conformity with EU law because it does not respect the maximum duration of four weeks during which a person may be detained in a transit centre and does not provide for guarantees for vulnerable applicants,” the Commission warns. Furthermore, “on its territory, Hungary does not ensure effective access to asylum procedures as migrants in an irregular situation are repatriated across the border, even if they wish to lodge an asylum application,” the Commission adds.
As for the return of migrants, the EU executive said that Hungarian legislation “does not guarantee that decisions (…) are taken on an individual basis and contain information on the remedies.” As a result, migrants are at risk of being sent away without proper safeguards and in violation of the principle of non-refoulement,” adds the EU executive.
In the second infringement procedure opened on Thursday, the Commission focuses on the new legislation – called “Stop Soros” by the Budapest authorities – which makes it possible to prosecute NGOs’ aid to migrants.
According to the Commission, this new legislation “raises concerns about its compatibility with EU law” with regard to asylum, free movement within the EU and contravenes the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Hungarian authorities – who believe that “the Brussels policy threatens our country to be invaded by migrants” – now have two months to respond to the Commission.