Thursday

21st Jan 2021

EU to scrutinise Hungary 'ignoring asylum ruling'

Hungary will be receiving a formal European Commission notice for ignoring a recent EU court ruling on asylum.

The move follows reports by a Budapest-based NGO, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, that Hungary is continuing to force would-be asylum seekers back into Serbia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In an email on Tuesday (12 January), a spokesperson for the European Commission said they will now demand the Orban government in Budapest explains itself.

"The commission will promptly send a letter to Hungary to enquire about the actions taken or planned for it to follow-up on the court's ruling," said the spokesperson, noting that effective access to asylum must be ensured.

Over 2,300 people have been pushed back into Serbia since the European Court of Justice ruling on 17 December, according to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee NGO.

That court verdict, among other things, said the push backs were illegal under EU law.

But Hungary has since countered, arguing that the spread of the coronavirus requires it to step up stricter border protection measures.

"Hungary has reintroduced the special legal order, which among others entails strict border protection measures," a Hungarian government spokesperson, said in an email.

She also noted that the zones along the border with Serbia were closed in order to comply with the December ruling by the Luxembourg-based court.

"The current pandemic highlighted even further the importance of being able to control who enters the EU's territory," she said.

Frontex to review own role in Hungary

But the case also implicates the EU's border and coast guard agency, Frontex.

Frontex has been operating in Hungary for the past few years.

Fabrice Leggeri, its executive directive, has in the past said the Warsaw-based agency would withdraw, should Hungary violate fundamental rights.

Those statements come amid a backdrop of mounting scrutiny of Frontex.

The EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf, recently launched an inquiry into Frontex as numerous MEPs demand Leggeri's resignation.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has asked Leggeri reconsider Frontex's presence in Hungary given that the European Court of Justice judgment is being violated.

"Frontex is currently assessing the impact of the CJEU [ECJ] ruling on our operational activities," said a Frontex spokesperson, when asked if the agency would withdraw.

For its part, the commission said it expects Frontex to act swiftly.

The Brussels-executive has initiated its own inquiry into Frontex, in the wake of media reports implicating the agency in push backs.

"This process is ongoing, with the commission's full involvement," said the commission spokesperson.

The commission currently has three pending infringement procedures on issues dealing with asylum against Hungary.

Hungary 'ignoring EU court ruling on asylum'

The European Court of Justice last month ruled Hungary had breached EU asylum laws. Budapest was told to stop pushing asylum seekers back into Serbia - yet nearly 2,500 people have been forced across the border since that judgement.

Exclusive

EU anti-fraud office launches probe into Frontex

EUobserver was tipped off about the investigation by an anonymous source, who said Olaf had raided the offices of Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri and his chef de cabinet in early December given alleged misconduct.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

EU Parliament pressing for inquiry into Frontex

MEPs are drumming up support for an inquiry into the EU's controversial border and coast guard agency, Frontex. So far, the Greens, the left-wing GUE, and Renew Europe are on board - amid expectations the centre-left S&D will also join.

Turkey snubs Greece on migrant returnees

The Greek government last week requested that the European Commission and EU border agency Frontex help return 1,450 failed asylum seekers to Turkey. Turkey has refused, citing the pandemic.

How Belgian government got caught up in human smuggling

Former Belgian minister Theo Francken gave one of his party friends the power to put Syrian Christians on a list to get Belgian humanitarian visa. This week that colleague was convicted of human smuggling.

News in Brief

  1. Brexit prompted finance exodus from UK to France
  2. Italian PM Conte wins confidence vote in Senate
  3. Borrell washes hands of EU's Venezuela policy
  4. Russia backs Greece in eastern Mediterranean dispute
  5. 'Ski-holiday' Switzerland reaches new infection high
  6. Germany extends lockdown, others expected to follow
  7. Barnier to be Brexit special adviser to von der Leyen
  8. EU commisioner to visit Bosnia's Lipa migrant camp

EU demands answers on Croat border attacks against migrants

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson wants to send her officials to Croatia sometime this month to make sure authorities there are complying with fundamental rights following numerous allegations of violence against migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country.

EU watchdog launches probe on Croat border violence

The European Ombudsman is launching a case into the lack of proper oversight by the European Commission when it comes to how fundamental rights of migrants and refugees are allegedly being violated by Croat border police.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. MEPs call to halt Russia pipeline over Navalny arrest
  2. EU targets vaccinating 70% of adults by summer
  3. Portugal pushes to start delayed 'future EU' conference
  4. EU Parliament pressing for inquiry into Frontex
  5. Untapped potential of the single market could boost European recovery
  6. Biden's 'Age of Aquarius'? Mars and Venus will clash over China
  7. The new dimension of 'ever-closer union'
  8. What do new CDU chief's pro-Russia views mean for Europe?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us