(Bloomberg) -- Hungary faces European Union fines for failing to comply with a ruling by the bloc’s top court over its tough treatment of asylum seekers.
The European Commission on Friday said it will refer Hungary to the EU Court of Justice and request financial penalties in a dispute that cuts at the heart of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-immigrant policy. EU judges said in December that Hungary unlawfully detained asylum seekers and moved them to a border area.
“As of today, Hungary has not addressed several aspects of the judgment,” the commission said in a statement. The nation “has not taken the measures necessary to ensure effective access to the asylum procedure. Hungary has also not clarified the conditions pertaining to the right to remain on the territory in case of an appeal in an asylum procedure.”
Orban’s anti-immigrant government this year asked the Constitutional Court in Budapest to review whether compliance with the EU court’s ruling may violate Hungary’s constitution. The challenge is “unacceptable” as it questions the primacy of EU law, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in the Hungarian capital on Friday.
The escalation follows the EU court’s decision to slap Poland with a record daily fine of 1 million euros ($1.2 million) in an intensifying feud over slipping democratic standards in the bloc’s biggest eastern member.
The commission’s patience is starting to run out over deviations from EU standards of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. It could in the coming days trigger the first step in the so-called conditionality mechanism, a new process that could see billions of euros withheld from member states accused of rule-of-law violations.
Last year, EU judges ruled that Hungary can’t hold asylum seekers indefinitely in a transit area on the county’s border with Serbia, adding that applicants should also have the right to a judicial review.
Hungary closed the contested transit zones and ended a practice where people were held in metal containers, and in some cases without food. Still, the government further tightened its rules for people seeking asylum in the future.
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