EC launches infringement proceedings against Hungary’s Stop-Soros legislation

The European Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary concerning new legislation which criminalises activities that support asylum and residence applications and further restricts the right to request asylum.

The Commission first launched an infringement procedure against Hungary concerning its asylum laws in December 2015. Following a series of exchanges on both administrative and political levels and a complementary letter of formal notice, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion in December 2017. 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. Specifically, the Commission finds that Hungarian legislation is incompatible with EU law in respects of asylum procedures, reception conditions and return.

The new legislation – so-called “Stop Soros” by the Hungarian authorities – criminalises any assistance offered by any person on behalf of national, international and non-governmental organisations to people wishing to apply for asylum or for a residence permit in Hungary. The laws also include measures which restrict individual freedoms, by preventing anyone who is subject to a criminal procedure under these laws from approaching the transit zones at Hungary’s borders, where asylum seekers are held. Sanctions range from temporary confinement to imprisonment of up to one year and expulsion from the country. In addition, the new law and a constitutional amendment have introduced new grounds for declaring an asylum application non-admissible, restricting the right to asylum only to people arriving in Hungary directly from a place where their life or freedom are at risk.

The Commission has therefore concluded that Hungary is failing to fulfil its obligations under the EU Treaties, EU laws and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. A letter of formal notice is the first step in an infringement procedure for breach of EU law. The Hungarian authorities now have two months to respond to the Commission’s concerns. The Commission stands ready to support and assist the Hungarian authorities in addressing this issue.

Somewhat predictably, Janos Halaz, the spokesperson of the governing Fidesz party, believes that the Commission’s actions are all about defending George Soros.

“This is not the first time that Brussels is trying to pressure Hungary into working in the interest of the Soros network,” he said. “This shows that the European Commission is strongly under the influence of the Soros network and is defending the networkʼs migration policy.”