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EU court fines Hungary for not following asylum laws

The European Court of Justice levied a 200 million euro fine, plus 1 million a day, on Viktor Orban's government for illegally deporting migrants and not following the EU's asylum laws.

BRUSSELS (AFP) — The EU's top court on Thursday fined Hungary 200 million euros ($216 million) and imposed a daily one-million-euro penalty for failing to follow the bloc's asylum laws and illegally deporting migrants, a decision Budapest slammed as "unacceptable."

The fine and penalty were because Hungary "is deliberately evading" compliance with the European Union laws despite a 2020 ruling that it must uphold international procedures for asylum seekers, the European Court of Justice said.

"Since this failure to fulfil obligations constitutes an unprecedented and exceptionally serious breach of EU law, the Court orders Hungary to pay a lump sum of 200 million euros and a penalty payment of one million euros per day of delay," it said in a statement.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is frequently at loggerheads with Brussels, immediately voiced outrage.

"The ECJ's decision to fine Hungary with 200M euros plus 1M euros daily(!!!) for defending the borders of the European Union is outrageous and unacceptable," the nationalist premier wrote on X. 

"It seems that illegal migrants are more important to the Brussels bureaucrats than their own European citizens," he added.

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‘Principle of solidarity’

Orban opposes allowing asylum seekers into Hungary despite EU and international laws requiring it to follow norms on individually weighing requests for protection.

Like Poland and the Czech Republic, Hungary has already been condemned by the EU courts for refusing to accept a quota of refugees decided under the bloc's program launched in 2015.

Budapest has continued to restrict migrants' access to formally asking for asylum and not upholding their right to stay in Hungary while their applications are processed, the court said.

As a result, the court backed a European Commission request for the fine against Hungary, saying it was pursuing a path that "seriously undermines the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between the member states."

EU member countries have to present national plans by December on how they will apply new asylum rules that will come into force in 2026.

Those rules will make the bloc's borders tougher for irregular migrants, who would face quicker vetting procedures, with accelerated deportations for those found ineligible to claim asylum.

New border centers would be created to hold migrants while their asylum requests are constituted and studied.

The new rules also require EU countries to take in thousands of asylum-seekers from "frontline" states such as Italy and Greece — or provide money or other resources to the under-pressure nations instead.

Hungary has resisted the new rules, especially that last point, arguing that its hardline approach is the one protecting the European Union.

By ANNE-LAURE MONDESERT with GEZA MOLNAR in Budapest, Agence France-Presse

Categories / International

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