No, Hungary is not being fined by the European Union for refusing to accept illegal immigrants

By: Kari Nixon
June 14 2024

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No, Hungary is not being fined by the European Union for refusing to accept illegal immigrants

Tweet shows user claiming Hungary is being fined

Fact-Check

The Verdict Misleading

Hungary is being fined for violating EU law regarding asylum seekers, as well as their own agreement to the 1951 Geneva Convention.

Claim ID af2c27d4

The claim

On June 13, 2024, a post on X (archived here) claimed that Hungary was found guilty in "the EU's highest court" because of its refusal to "accept ILLEGALS at its border." The post claimed that Hungary will be fined €1 million per day "for blocking illegal crossings."

By June 14, the post had accumulated 187,000 views, 6,100 likes, and 2,300 comments. 

The post included a video of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking about the issue - originally posted by the Prime Minister himself. The video, dating from September 26, 2023, shows Orbán arguing that the EU Pact on Migration, passed in late June 2023, was pushed through despite Hungarian and Polish protests and, according to him, had "already failed." He describes the immigrants that had arrived since then as "an invading army" that had caused violence and attacks against officers attempting to control the influx of migrants and that, as a result, Hungary "cannot meet the demands" of the immigration pact.

In addition to this video, Orbán has more recently posted about the judgment himself, claiming in kind with the above post that the European Court of Justice fine is in response to Hungary "defending the borders of the European Union." 

In fact

While there was an EU summit discussion on migration in June 2023, the European Court of Justice was investigating Hungary for the issues raised in these posts much earlier, with an initial judgment issued in 2020. At that time, the judgment stated that Hungary had "failed to fulfill its obligations … on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection," as well as ignoring standards "for the reception of applicants for international protection." 

Hungary and Poland stalemated the 2023 EU migration discussions. Despite progress being blocked on the summit statement at this event, earlier migration deals remained in place. 

In a press release issued on Thursday, the European Court of Justice stated its findings that Hungary "had not taken the measures necessary to comply with the 2020 judgment."

The specific violations found by the court involved Hungary's refusal to allow asylum seekers to stay in the country while awaiting their appeals process after application denial. Specifically, Hungary has enacted a set of laws since 2020 requiring that asylum seekers apply for asylum from outside the country - in one of the country's embassies in Belgrade and Kyiv (although people fleeing from Ukraine are exempt). An asylum seeker already in Hungary must leave the country and travel to one of these locations to fulfill their asylum application. According to Politico, one effect of these laws has been that only 44 people applied for asylum in Hungary in 2022.

European Union regulations, in fact, do not allow an asylum seeker to leave an EU country to apply away from the country in which they are applying for asylum, meaning that this single policy of Hungary violates two EU laws simultaneously.

Since the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was passed, it has been standard practice for asylum seekers to apply from within the country where they seek asylum. Hungary signed on to this convention in 1989, and no member state has ever removed itself from the agreement. 

Additionally, under these rulings, the core principle of "non-refoulement" was established, making it clear that "a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom." It also established that anyone might apply for asylum and remain in the country where they have applied until a judgment in their case has been determined.

The question of migration to the EU and U.K. has been a hot-button issue during this cycle's elections. According to the World Economic Forum, 84 percent of refugees globally live in developing nations. The U.K., by comparison, is home to approximately 1 percent, while the EU housed less than 10 percent (a number which grew to 20 percent after the Russian invasion of Ukraine).

Logically Facts has previously published an article covering the migration pact and the misinformation surrounding it.  

The verdict

Hungary is not being fined for refusing to accept "illegal" migrants. Instead, it is being fined for illegally refusing to accept legally protected asylum seekers. They have been protected and guaranteed the right to apply from within safe countries since 1951, in an agreement that Hungary signed. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading. 

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