The EU executive on Thursday announced the launch of a new legal procedure against Hungary over recent legislation that criminalises activities which support legal migration.
The Commission is sending Hungary a “letter of formal notice,” over concerns that the new anti-immigrant laws restrict asylum rights.
Hungary’s new constitutional amendments infringe upon the right to freedom of association and expression and should be repealed, according to the Commission, who supports the conclusions first articulated by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and the Venice Commission. Brussels has said that Hungary is “failing to fulfil its obligations under EU Treaties, laws and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.”
The Hungarian legislation package, called “Stop Soros” in reference to the Jewish – Hungarian billionaire philanthropist George Soros, refers to an alleged plan for managing the migrant crisis which Hungaryʼs government has repeatedly attributed to Soros.
Hungary’s leader, Victor Orban’s, latest package defines support for “illegal immigration” in the Criminal Code as offering to initiate an application for asylum to anybody who has arrived from or passed through on the way to Hungary, any country in which that person was not persecuted. According to the law, a first offence will be treated as a misdemeanour and is punishable by imprisonment of up to 90 days, but repeat offences and the support of such illegal activity by material means could result in imprisonment for a period of up to one year.
In addition to the above, the European Commission has also decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for non-compliance of its asylum and return legislation with EU law, after repeated calls, since the initial launch of infringement procedure against Hungary concerning its asylum laws back in December 2015.
“After analysing the reply provided by the Hungarian authorities, the Commission considers that the majority of the concerns raised have still not been addressed and has therefore now decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union – the last stage of the infringement procedure,” says the European Commission announcement, noting that the legislation falls short on the border procedure. In addition, Hungary fails to provide effective access to asylum procedures as irregular migrants are escorted back across the border, even if they wish to apply for asylum while breaching EU rules as set out in the Reception Conditions Directive.