Hungary fined by European Court of Justice for breaking rules on asylum seekers 

The European Union’s highest court has imposed a €200 million fine on Hungary for not following the EU’s asylum policies. Additionally, Hungary will incur a daily penalty of €1 million until it amends its policies.

The European Court of Justice found that Hungary violated a 2020 ruling which stated that it breached EU laws by requiring asylum seekers to travel to Belgrade or Kyiv to apply for a travel permit to enter Hungary. 

According to EU law, people fleeing persecution are entitled to request international protection and cannot be deported if there is a substantial risk of death or torture in their home country.

Since the arrival of over a million migrants, primarily fleeing the Syrian war, in 2015, Hungary has adopted a stringent stance on non-EU migrants. The Hungarian government erected border fences and attempted to prevent many from crossing into the country.

In a statement on Thursday, the EU court accused Hungary of deliberately avoiding the EU’s asylum policies, describing this failure as an “unprecedented and extremely serious infringement of EU law.” 

The court added that Hungary unlawfully detained asylum applicants and did not honour their right to remain in the country until their appeals were fully processed.

A new EU asylum policy aims to expedite the asylum process by requiring member states to either accept thousands of migrants from “frontline” countries like Italy, Greece, and Spain or to contribute additional funding and resources. Hungary has responded by pledging not to accept any irregular migrants, regardless of any agreements.

The court went on to note that Hungary’s non-compliance with EU laws shifts the burden onto other EU nations which undermines the principle of solidarity within the union.

In a post on X, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote, “defending the borders of the European Union” was “outrageous and unacceptable” and said “it seems that illegal migrants are more important to the Brussels bureaucrats than their own European citizens”.

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