Friday’s ruling of Hungary’s Constitutional Court has bolstered the government’s migration policy and allows its full implementation, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff said.
Gergely Gulyás told a press conference on Friday that the Constitutional Court’s “clear and unequivocal” decision that Hungary may apply its own measures wherever the European Union has not fully worked out EU joint competences had strengthened the government’s position that Hungary “has the right to protect its borders independently of the EU”.
The government has a duty to protect Hungarians from the adverse effects of migration, he said.
The Constitutional Court sees regulations pertaining to Hungary’s population and state system as national competences that have priority over EU regulations, he said.
The ruling sees the country’s historically evolving population and the culture of its ethnic minorities and the majority nation as assets that constitute integral parts of human dignity, Gulyás said.
Asked if Hungary will implement the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) ruling concerning its migration rules, Gulyás noted that the European Council, composed of the heads of state and government, had instructed the European Commission to set new rules for migration. At present the European Commission is hindering rather than promoting the defence of borders, and the CJEU’s ruling is encouraging mass migration, he said, adding that the EC would have to change this situation.
Gulyás said the member states should observe the CJEU’s rulings in each case when they pertain to powers delegated to the European Union.
He said the Hungarian government’s refugee policy would remain unchanged. Applications for asylum can be submitted to the Hungarian embassy in the first safe country on the refugees’ route, while illegal migrants will continue to be returned from the border.
The Hungarian government has clear-cut ideas about what migration policy the European Union should follow, Gulyás said. Asylum-seekers should only be allowed to enter its territory once they have been granted refugee status. Until then, they have to wait in hotspots or transit zones outside the EU, he said.
“Otherwise there will be a migration crisis,” Gulyás said.
Varga: Top court ruling shows ‘we have the right to refuse to live’ with immigration
The Constitutional Court’s ruling that Hungary may apply its own measures wherever the European Union has not taken adequate steps to implement EU rules solely applies to immigration, “and we have the right to refuse to live with others”, Judit Varga, the justice minister, said on Friday.
“The Constitutional Court makes clear that we have the right to refuse to live with others who have not shared centuries of our common fate,” Varga said on Facebook.
Migration, she added, put “our sovereignty and identity” and “human rights and dignity” at risk.
The minister said that Hungary, at the same time, remained a “committed member of the European Union”.
But today’s ruling signals that until EU rules on immigration are complete, Hungary has sole powers in this area and can change national rules with the aim of protecting its borders effectively, the minister added.
Varga said the court’s ruling created a “strong legal fence” alongside the physical one.
The minister said the dispute between Hungary and the European Commission highlighted the importance of rethinking immigration rules in Brussels.
Varga emphasised that the Constitutional Court had not examined whether EU law had primacy over national law. Neither was the Hungarian court procedure a review of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s ruling, she added.
Varga noted that in respect of the European court ruling on Hungary’s border laws, she had turned to the Constitutional Court on behalf of the government in February because complying with the ruling presented a constitutional conundrum.
The minister cited a clause in Hungary’s fundamental law that raised the question of whether an obligation arising from EU law may lead to a conflict since a foreign national would be staying illegally in Hungary for an indefinite period of time such that they effectively became a part of the population.
Varga said EU rules could not keep pace with the fast changing realities in the world. An increasing number of countries consider that current EU migration laws do not work in practice, she said. The rules are not up to the job of protecting Europe from illegal immigration, she added.
So EU member states must forge their own measures and tailored solutions to migration pressures, she said.
The minister noted that Brussels had taken exception to Hungary’s immigration rules maintained since 2015, and launched infringement proceedings. Last December, the EC declared that foreign citizen staying illegally in Hungary could not be escorted to the border and an asylum or expulsion procedure should be carried out instead, she noted.
In practice, however, illegal entrants would end up staying in Hungary if the authorities lacked legal recourse to sending them back through the border.
Hungary, Varga noted, dismantled transit zones after the European decision requiring it to do so.
“But we won’t let migrants in willy-nilly,” she said, adding that asylum applicants must turn to Hungarian embassies of neighboring countries as their first port of call. Varga noted that these countries were all safe.
In the featured photo: PMO Head Gergely Gulyás. Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI