Migration through the Mediterranean : which European responses ?
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Hungarian migration policy: the EU reacts
On Wednesday the 20th of June, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a series of laws under the “Stop Soros” plan, aiming to criminalise (according to the government) “organisers of illegal immigration”. The adoption of this law – on World Refugee Day, no less – elicited strong reactions. These came in particular from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which denounced violations of human rights and European law, and the flouting of the state of law in the country.
It was in this context that the LIBE Committee (for civil liberties, justice and internal affairs) of the European Parliament adopted, on the 25th of June, the Sargentini report. This included a request for European sanctions to be levelled at Hungary for violating the state of law and contravening the values of the European Union, based on article 7 of the Treaty. This vote was approved in a plenary session on the 12th of September by a crushing majority – 448 votes for, 197 against and 48 abstentions. The process now consists of a prevention mechanism which asks the European Council to determine whether Hungary is violating fundamental European values. This request will be heard by the Council, who will make a decision and may issue recommendations. If these recommendations are not followed by the Hungarian authorities, the sanction mechanism may then come into play. In response, Hungary turned to the Court of Justice of the EU to contest the validity of this vote. In a resolution adopted in mid-October, Hungarian MEPs denounced this report as “calumnious”, “pro-immigration” and an “attack on the decisions made by a democratically elected Parliament and the sovereignty of the country”.
At the same time, on the 19th of July, the European Commission had sent a formal letter of notice to Hungary concerning their new “Stop-Soros” law. They also submitted recourse against Hungary at the Court of Justice of the EU concerning the non-compliance of Hungarian legislation, in terms of asylum and return, with EU law. They consider that the requirement that asylum requests be submitted exclusively in transit zones, the unlimited detention of asylum seekers and legislation around the return of dismissed applicants run contrary to Union law. This is the final stage of an infraction procedure launched in December 2015.