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3rd Feb 2023

Hungary will defy EU top court ruling on migration

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Hungary will not change its controversial migration laws despite a ruling by the EU's top court to do so, prime minister Viktor Orbán said on Tuesday (21 December).

"The government decided that we will not do anything to change the system of border protection," Orbán told a rare, end-of-the-year news conference in Budapest.

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"We will maintain the existing regime, even if the European court ordered us to change it. We will not change it and will not let anyone in," he said.

"It doesn't matter what the European court ruled, it does not matter, Hungary will still have to defend its borders," Orbán told reporters.

Orbán is using a ruling by Hungary's constitutional court to argue that his government can ignore the decision of the EU's highest court.

The European Court of Justice, in a 2017 ruling, said Budapest broke EU laws by pushing asylum seekers over the border into Serbia, saying Serbia was already a safe country.

The EU Commission last month sought fines over the ruling, saying Hungary had failed to comply with the judgment.

Orbán's justice minister, Judit Varga, in February had asked the constitutional court to review a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on migration.

Hungary's top court, meanwhile, ruled earlier this month that Budapest has the right to apply its own measures in areas where the EU has yet to take adequate steps for common implementation of EU rules.

However, the court has not ruled on the Hungarian government's challenge to the primacy of EU law.

A similar challenge in Poland, which was confirmed by the country's controversial Constitutional Tribunal, sent shock waves through the EU and caused deep concern for the EU's legal framework.

Orbán also said at the press conference that migration and LGBTQI rights would dominate the agenda for his right-wing Fidesz party at the elections next April.

The row with the EU over the rule of law and fight against corruption meant that the commission, so far, has not approved Hungary's Covid-19 recovery plan, freezing funding to the country.

The 58-year-old Orbán faces an unprecedented united opposition next year, after being elected three times in a row. Meanwhile, inflation has hit a 14-year-high, the economy is headed for a slowdown, and the budget deficit has surged due to pre-election spending.

Female president

Orbán also pledged to nominate his minister for family affairs as the country's first female president, locking in another public position before the April general election.

Orbán said he wants Katalin Novák to replace János Áder in the mostly ceremonial role, when Áder's five-year term expires next year.

The president is chosen by the parliament - which is currently dominated by a two-thirds majority for Orbán's Fidesz party.

Novák has been a champion of generous handouts to families, and has supported the government's de facto ban of same sex couples adopting children, and defended traditional gender roles.

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