European Commission opens yet another infringement proceeding against Hungary

May 17, 2017

The European Commission released a statement Wednesday announcing its decision to move forward with an infringement procedure against Hungary for changes to the country’s asylum legislation.

A separate infringement procedure against Hungarian asylum policy was opened back in 2015, which the Commission addressed Wednesday. The new procedure serves as a follow-up to more changes to Hungarian asylum law adopted in March 2017.

According to the Commission, Hungary’s asylum laws are incompatible with EU law in three areas: asylum procedures, rules on returns, and the conditions at reception facilities.

The Commission’s statements are as follow:

  • Asylum Procedures

“As regards the asylum procedures, the Hungarian law does not allow for applications to be submitted outside of special transit zones at the borders, and restricts access to these zones, thus failing to provide an effective access to asylum procedures within its territory. The border procedures are not in accordance with the conditions of EU law and the special guarantees for vulnerable individuals not respected. The reduced time for appeals violates the fundamental right to an effective remedy.”

  • Rules on Returns

“The Hungarian asylum law also falls short of the EU rules on return of illegally staying third country nationals. The Commission is concerned that Hungary is currently returning migrants (including asylum seekers) who cross the border irregularly to Serbia without following the procedures and conditions of EU law on return and asylum. Individual return decisions are not being issued by Hungary as required.”

  • Reception Conditions

“[T]he Commission believes that the systematic and indefinite confinement of asylum seekers, including minors over 14, in closed facilities in the transit zone without respecting required procedural safeguards, such as the right to appeal, leads to systematic detentions, which are in breach of the EU law on reception conditions and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The Hungarian law fails to provide the required material reception conditions for asylum applicants, thus violating the EU rules in this respect.”

Where to from here?

According to the Commission, Hungary has failed to make the necessary adjustments to Hungarian law to bring its asylum provisions in line with EU standards. As a consequence, the Commission has sent Hungary a letter of formal notice. If the Hungarian government does not provide a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may ultimately refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.