Frontex, the EU agency for controlling the Union’s external borders, has decided to withdraw its resources from Hungary.

This comes after the European Commission launched in 2018 an infringement procedure against the member state for breach of asylum legislation. The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled last December against Hungary and stated that the Hungarian government had violated EU legislation by denying migrants the right to apply for asylum and by deporting them to Serbia. It was not the first time Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his government have been found in breach of EU rules in this area.

Frontex has removed 40 staff members from their posts in Hungary, including border guards. It intends to resume its work there once the state complies with the Court’s decision by implementing the relevant legislation in national law.

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The border agency also said it would send 20 agents to the Romanian-Serbian border.

Hungary in recent years has not changed its hard-line position on the matter. According to reports, around 4500 migrants have been forcibly removed from its territory since the ruling was made, and no end to this conflict between Brussels and Budapest is in sight.

The EU Parliament has already voted to trigger a procedure under Article 7 of the EU Treaty which could end with sanctions for Hungary, and in a separate case, also for Poland.

The Orbán government has been under fire for putting undue pressure on NGOs, whereas in the case of Poland, for removing interfering and compromising the independence of the judiciary. Article 7 provides for special mechanisms in case an EU country does not respect the fundamental values referred to in Article 2 of the same treaty, including the rule of law.

Prior to invoking Article 7, however, a three-step procedure needs to be followed. It includes an assessment by the Commission of the situation, followed by a recommendation and the monitoring of the EU country’s actions with regards to the recommendation.


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