11 December 2015

On 10 December 2015, the European Commission sent a formal notice to Hungary which is the first step of infringement proceedings, in relation to recent reforms to its asylum laws. It previously raised concerns that they are incompatible with EU law on asylum and borders and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It was not satisfied by Hungary’s response and found that procedures for asylum appeals did not allow new facts and circumstances to be raised by asylum seekers with negative decisions, and that applicants were forced to leave the territory before an appeal can be effectively considered. In addition, there is no mandatory requirement to give applicants a personal hearing and decisions can be made by court secretaries rather than judges. In addition, fast-track criminal proceedings for irregular entry do not ensure that suspects are provided with a written translation of essential documents, contrary to EU law provisions.  

Amnesty International notes that this is an important step towards ensuring that Hungary restores the rights of asylum seekers to fair and effective asylum determination proceedings. It has criticised the new asylum laws in a recent report and has launched a petition requesting the Prime Minister of Hungary to repeal them. An ECRE fact-finding mission to Hungary also concluded that the Hungarian asylum system contravenes international refugee law and EU asylum law and urged the authorities to take the necessary steps to resolve this.  

The European Commission also escalatedproceedings already open against Greece, Croatia, Italy and Malta. Greece, Croatia and Italy have failed to correctly implement the Eurodac regulation relating to the fingerprinting of asylum seekers, which is important in the context of the Dublin system and EU relocation schemes. In addition, Greece and Malta failed to inform the Commission of steps they have taken to implement EU laws within the two month deadline given. These relate to common EU procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive and minimum reception conditions for asylum seekers, which include access to housing, food, healthcare and employment (recast Reception Conditions Directive). 

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 11 December 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.