ECJ condemns Hungary for lack of solidarity in refugee policy

ECJ condemns Hungary for lack of solidarity in refugee policy
ECJ condemns Hungary for lack of solidarity in refugee policy

For years, Hungary has pursued a tough stance against refugees – and repeatedly violates EU asylum law. The European Court of Justice has now inflicted a costly defeat on Viktor Orban’s government.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has imposed financial sanctions on Hungary because of its asylum policy. Because the country has failed to implement supreme court decisions on the asylum system, it must pay 200 million euros plus a daily penalty of one million euros for each day of delay, the judges decided on Thursday in Luxembourg. The breach of contract consists in Hungary deliberately avoiding the application of a common Union policy. This represents a completely new and exceptionally serious violation of EU law, they said.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban reacted angrily to the verdict: “The decision is outrageous and unacceptable. We will not give in to the financial blackmail of the Brussels bureaucrats! We defend the borders and we defend the Hungarians!” the right-wing populist wrote on Facebook.

Hungary’s right-wing nationalist government has been reprimanded by the EU Commission on several occasions because of its rigid refugee policy. In previous rulings, the ECJ has already declared essential parts of the Hungarian asylum system to be illegal.

Hungary in dispute with the EU over asylum policy

The background to the current decision is a lawsuit filed by the EU Commission in 2022. The Brussels authority monitors compliance with common law in the community of states. The EU Commission found that Budapest had not sufficiently implemented an earlier ruling by the ECJ from December 2020 on the Hungarian asylum system.

The judges had ruled at the time that various regulations violated EU law. This included procedures in the now-closed transit camps on the border with Serbia. New rules then stipulated that asylum seekers had to undergo a preliminary procedure in Hungarian embassies before they could possibly enter Hungary to apply for asylum there. The ECJ also overturned this regulation last year.

In the current proceedings, the EU Commission complained that even after the 2020 ruling, Hungary had still not taken the necessary measures to ensure effective access to the asylum procedure.

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Poland also sentenced to pay penalty by ECJ

The judges now largely agreed: Budapest is violating the principle of loyal cooperation in the area of ​​international protection and the rules on the return of illegally staying third-country nationals. This behavior represents a significant threat to the unity of EU law.

Hungary is not the only country that has been fined in recent years. In 2021, Poland was ordered by the ECJ to pay one million euros a day for failing to implement supreme court rulings on a controversial judicial reform. The amount was later halved.

Source: Stern

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