Viktor Orban says he is fighting for ‘common sense’ at EU summit
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The European Court of Justice ruled the Hungarian government was guilty of breaking EU laws on protecting vulnerable migrants and refugees by denying them a right to apply for asylum. Mr Orban’s administration was accused of forcibly deporting people to the Serbian border in December.
The ruling required the Hungarian Prime Minister to change his policy or potentially face fines.
But Mr Orban is doing very little to conceal his government is continuing to pursue his deportation cases regardless of the court’s judgment.
The move was praised by National Rally French MEP France Jamet, who claims the Hungarian Prime Minister is exercising his right as a sovereign head of state.
She said: “According to the EU Court of Justice, the expulsion of asylum seekers from Hungary is illegal.
“Viktor Orban has ignored it.
“And he is right!
“It’s called sovereignty, the EU doesn’t have to dictate its law!”
According to the official statistics, which can be found on the website of the Hungarian police, 2,824 refugees were apprehended near the border fence and forced to return to Serbia in January this year alone.
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Added to this, another 184 refugees were apprehended who must first stand trial in Hungary.
In a statement late last year, the ECJ said: “The court holds that Hungary has failed to fulfil its obligation to ensure effective access to the procedure for granting international protection.”
It rejected the Hungarian government’s position that the migration crisis, when millions of people fled the Middle East and North Africa for Europe, was a justification for breaching EU rules in the name of public order.
This is not the first time the ECJ has ruled against Orban’s government.
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Last year it ruled that a contentious law requiring civil organisations to disclose foreign donors “introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions” in breach of fundamental rights, including on personal data protection and freedom of association.
On Thursday, the European Commission gave Hungary two months to change the law that was introduced in 2017, or face fines.
Vera Jourova, a deputy head of the European Commission, said: “Civil society organisations are an indispensable part of our democracies. We must support them, not fight them.”
The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the Hungarian Prime Minister giving him two months to implement the ECJ ruling.
That is part of an infringement procedure through which the Commission takes on EU countries violating the bloc’s laws.
Should Budapest fail to react, the Commission could ask the ECJ to impose financial fines.
The EU put Hungary, as well as its nationalist ally Poland, under a probe over rule of law concerns and Orban’s Fidesz party was suspended from the biggest centre-right political group in the European Parliament.
But Orban dismisses the criticism and told Reuters in an interview last September that he saw himself as a “freedom fighter”.
The NGO law is part of Orban’s feud with the Budapest-born US billionaire George Soros who promotes liberal and open societies.
Mr Orban has repeatedly accused NGOs funded by Mr Soros of political meddling to promote migration and Western values.
A spokeswoman for Hungary’s EU mission said last week Budapest was negotiating with the Commission on the law, was ready to repeal it and replace it with a new one.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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