EU Fines Hungary €200 Million for Migrant Asylum Law Violations

The bloc’s top court also hit Hungary with a €1 million-a-day penalty until the asylum law is fully implemented

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ordered the Hungarian government to pay €200 million ($216 million) for failing to comply with EU asylum rules.

In addition to the one-time penalty, the Luxembourg-based court also ruled that Budapest must pay €1 million per day until it fully implements the legislation. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has criticized the ruling as “outrageous and unacceptable.”

“It seems that illegal migrants are more important to the Brussels bureaucrats than their own European citizens,” Orban wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter), claiming that Hungary had been ordered to pay millions for defending its borders.

The dispute dates back to December 2020, when the EU’s top court first ruled that Budapest had limited access to asylum procedures for those seeking international protection in the country, making the process of filing applications “virtually impossible.” Back then, the court also ruled that the Hungarian authorities were unlawfully keeping asylum seekers in “transit zones” under conditions that amounted to detention, as well as violating their right to appeal.

In the latest verdict, the court admitted that Budapest had closed “transit zones,” but hardened rules to bar future asylum applicants. The failure to “fulfill obligations constitutes an unprecedented and exceptionally serious breach of EU law,” the ECJ said in a press release.

Last year, EU ambassadors agreed on a landmark migration pact that would see illegal immigrants, most of whom land in Italy and Greece after crossing the Mediterranean, transferred to other EU states on a quota basis. In accordance with the legislation, member states that are not located along the bloc’s external border may choose either to accept refugees or pay compensation to the EU fund.

The pact was aimed at sharing the responsibility of hosting migrants after eastern EU member states were unwilling to take in people who had arrived in Greece, Italy and other countries. Hungary and Poland voted against the pact, while Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic abstained.

Back then, Orban said the EU had legally “raped” Hungary and Poland by forcing through a deal that would compel member states to accept quotas of illegal immigrants, adding that he would not compromise with Brussels on such an arrangement.