Action brought on 8 November 2019 — European Commission v Hungary

(Case C-821/19)

Language of the case: Hungarian


Applicant: European Commission (represented by: M. Condou-Durande, J. Tomkin and A. Tokár, Agents)

Defendant: Hungary

Form of order sought

The Commission claims that the Court of Justice should:

(a)    declare that:

by adding a new ground of inadmissibility of asylum applications to those expressly established in Directive 2013/32/EU in relation to the inadmissibility of asylum applications, Hungary has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 33(2) of that directive;

by adopting measures which criminalise organising activity carried out in order to enable asylum proceedings to be brought in respect of persons who do not meet the criteria established in national asylum law, and which prescribe the adoption of restrictive measures with regard to persons accused or convicted of such an offence, Hungary has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 8(2), Article 12(1)(c) and Article 22(1) of Directive 2013/32/EU, and under Article 10(4) of Directive 2013/33/EU; and

(b)    order Hungary to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

Since the sudden increase in the number of asylum applications in 2015, Hungary has amended its asylum system a number of times. In 2018, substantive amendments were made to Hungarian legislation on the right to asylum. On 20 June 2018, the Hungarian Parliament passed the az egyes törvényeknek a jogellenes bevándorlás elleni intézkedésekkel kapcsolatos módosításáról szóló, 2018. Évi VI. törvény (Law VI of 2018, amending certain laws in relation to measures against illegal immigration) and the seventh amendment to the Hungarian Constitution. That set of legislative measures is also known as the ‘Stop Soros’ Law. Those amendments further restricted the range of persons eligible for asylum, given that, in accordance with the amendment to the Law on the right to asylum, applications are to be deemed inadmissible when applicants have arrived in the territory of Hungary via a country in which they have not been exposed to persecution or faced the direct threat of persecution. The Büntető Törvénykönyv (Criminal Code) was also amended in the same vein. It thus criminalised organising activity aimed at making it possible for asylum proceedings to be brought for persons who are not persecuted on grounds of race, nationality, membership of a particular social group, religious belief or political opinion, or who do not have a well-founded fear of direct persecution in their country of origin, country of habitual residence, or other country via which they arrived [in Hungary].

Taking the view that the legislation adopted in 2018 is contrary to EU law, the Commission initiated an infringement procedure against Hungary. Given that Hungary’s contentions during the earlier administrative procedure have not dispelled the Commission’s doubts, the latter has decided to bring the matter before the Court of Justice.