3rd Dec 2023

Hungary violated EU asylum law, rules top court

Listen to article

Budapest violated EU asylum laws by forcing people to first go to Hungarian embassies in Serbia and Ukraine before initiating a claim for international protection, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday (22 June).

The Luxembourg-based court announced the verdict following a lengthy dispute first initiated by the European Commission against Hungary.

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

The court said Hungary failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law by requiring people seeking international protection to first file a "declaration of intent" at its embassies in Belgrade and Kyiv.

The court said that this requirement ran counter to Hungary's obligations for "ensuring effective, easy and rapid access to the procedure for granting international protection."

Hungary had claimed the provision was a security measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Hungary under the leadership of its prime minister Viktor Orban has historically framed migration as a national security threat and one partly driven by philanthropist billionaire George Soros.

In 2015, they erected a 175km barbed-wire fence along the border section with Serbia.

But the issue also plays into rightwing, Christian conservative identity politics espoused by Orban, who has in the past described refugees as "Muslim invaders."

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, an NGO based out of Budapest, says asylum in Hungary has essentially halted since May 2020.

It says that only four families had been granted permission to enter Hungary to apply for asylum since the establishment of the embassy procedure.

It is also not the first time Budapest has lost a court battle on migration. In May, Hungary lost three cases in one day at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The cases included a 14-year-old asylum-seeking child, who was assaulted by field guards and thrown back into Serbia by Hungarian police.

The string of losses can be traced back several years, including a 2020 Luxembourg-court ruling that faulted Hungary for legalising pushbacks from zones along its border with Serbia.

Although Hungary has since closed those transit zones, the pushbacks into Serbia continue unabated, says the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. Citing government data, the NGO said there had been almost 160,000 pushbacks last year.

Over half of those were Syrians, it said.


Frontex suspends operations in Hungary

The EU's border and coast guard agency, Frontex will suspend operations in Hungary. The move follows a European Court of Justice ruling in December demanding Hungary stop pushing people back into Serbia.

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.

EU Parliament parties urge 'no money for Orbán's Hungary'

The Christian Democrat, Social Democrat, liberal and green groups, plus the smaller Left group, warned that the latest legislative developments in Hungary will further deteriorate the rule of law, fundamental rights and democracy.

Latest News

  1. Israel's EU ambassador: 'No clean way to do this operation'
  2. Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law
  3. Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground
  4. Germany moves to criminalise NGO search-and-rescue missions
  5. Israel recalls ambassador to Spain in new diplomatic spat
  6. Migrant return bill 'obstructed' as EU states mull new position
  7. Paris and Berlin key to including rape in gender-violence directive
  8. What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us