picture of the European Commission

For the first time, Hungary has been ordered to pay a fine for non-compliance with a court ruling, reports Népszava in Brussels.

The European Commission asked the European Court of Justice on Friday to impose a fine for the Hungarian authorities’ failure to comply with a court ruling on asylum. The amount of the fine will not be public until the final judgment, according to Commission spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz, but will be set according to the circumstances of the issue and the member country’s capabilities.

Balázs Lehóczki, media spokesperson for the European Court of Justice, said that judges may overrule a Commission proposal to impose a fine, but this doesn’t typically occur. The proceedings in any case may take up to a year and a half.

The EU court ruled in December that certain elements of the Hungarian asylum legislation were illegal. In particular, it claimed that Hungarian authorities had restricted the access of third-country nationals to be able to claim asylum, detained asylum seekers, and deported illegal immigrants from the country at the Hungarian-Serbian border without any means of legal redress.

Judges also objected to the operation of the so-called “transit zones,” which have since been abolished by the government, and found forced restraints used by authorities to be illegal, although they are still being used.

The court’s judgment on the matter was final and binding, but Hungary has not fully enforced it since it was delivered 11 months ago.

The Commission’s current press release stated that Hungary did not take the necessary measures to ensure effective access to its asylum procedure, nor did it specify the conditions under which remedy may be granted. The College of Commissioners had already warned the government of its obligations in June, to no effect.

Due to a lack of compliance from the Hungarian government, the Commission felt no other option was available but to ask the court to impose a lump sum financial penalty and a daily fine on Hungary.

Poland was recently ordered to pay a fine of one million Euros a day for likewise running afoul of recent EU court rulings. The Warsaw government has indicated that it would not be paying the fine, and so the amount of the financial penalty will be deducted automatically from aid the country receives from the EU.

[Népszava]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.