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8th Feb 2023

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Frontex suspends operations in Hungary

The EU's border agency, Frontex, is suspending operations in Hungary.

"The head of Frontex has already made up his mind and will suspend all activities in Hungary," an EU official told EUobserver on Wednesday (27 January).

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A spokesperson from the Warsaw-based agency said Frontex is "still evaluating" its role in Hungary. Post-publication of this article, the spokesperson confirmed, noting that "Frontex is suspending its activities in Hungary."

The move comes after Hungary has continued to push back migrants into Serbia - in violation of a European Court of Justice ruling in December.

Those violations are being carefully documented by the Budapest-based NGO, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

In a tweet, it said Hungary had pushed back over 4,400 people since the December ruling by the EU's top court.

Given the violations, the NGO had demanded Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri to withdraw its border forces from Hungary.

"By continuing to participate in border surveillance and border protection activities, Frontex risks being complicit," it said, in a letter.

The European Commission earlier this month, in a letter to Hungary, demanded responses from the government in Budapest.

"We haven't yet received a reply," said a European Commission spokesperson, earlier this week.

EUobserver understands that the Commission had also asked Frontex's management board, alongside with other members, to pull out of Hungary.

For its part, the Hungarian government had previously said that it needed to continue to carry out the expulsions due to Covid-related health risks.

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.

EU to scrutinise Hungary 'ignoring asylum ruling'

The European Court of Justice told Hungary in December to stop forcing asylum seekers back into Serbia. The European Commission is now demanding Budapest follow the judgement - but Hungary has since reintroduced a special legal order, under Covid-19.

Frontex chief accused of possible rights 'cover up'

A group of MEPs delivered their final report into the EU's border agency Frontex. After a four-month probe, they found it had failed to take its responsibility to protect fundamental rights at Europe's external borders.

Frontex ends Lithuania border surveillance operation

The agency is suspending border surveillance operations in Lithuania. It also wants to reverse a rule which requires it to suspend operations in EU states where violations take place — and instead send in more agents.

Frontex keeps return operations in Hungary secret

Frontex won't reveal how it complies with rights when it returns rejected asylum seekers from Hungary. The Warsaw-based agency had suspended other operations in Hungary after the EU court in 2020 told Budapest to stop abusing migrants.

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