Hungary defies EU over migrants as crisis mounts

Hungary has suspended asylum reception, defying EU Dublin rules

Hungary defies EU over migrants as crisis mounts

World Bulletin / News Desk

 In a challenge to European leaders before a summit that aims to tackle a refugee crisis, Hungary unilaterally suspended an EU asylum programme on Tuesday, saying it was overburdened by illegal migrants.

As Italy said its ships had rescued 3,700 migrants at sea since Monday and Libyans threatened military action against EU moves to curb human trafficking, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government demonstratedBudapest's frustration with proposals to spread asylum seekers around the continent by refusing to take any more migrants sent there under EU regulations.

With EU leaders due to debate a new scheme on Thursday to relocate Mediterranean migrants landing in Italyand Greece, the European Commission demanded an immediate explanation after Hungary stopped accepting foreigners returned there from other EU states for their asylum requests to be handled by Budapest.

The move, made by a government already at odds with Brussels over civil rights, was seen as a challenge to the Dublin Regulations which state that asylum claims be handled in the EU country where migrants first arrive or first request protection.

The issue has this month sparked a row between founder EU members Italy and France after Paris began stopping suspected illegal migrants at their normally open border.

Hungarian officials have said an EU plan to relieve the strain on Italy and Greece fails to recognise their own problem with some 60,000 migrants who have crossed Hungary's EU land borders, mostly from non-EU Serbia. Orban has said a Commission proposal to force states to take a quota "borders on insanity."

A government spokesman said on Tuesday: "Hungary's asylum system is overburdened, the most overburdened among EU member states affected by illegal immigration."

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos spoke to Hungarian officials late on Tuesday, seeking an explanation of a move the Commission said Budapest described as "technical."

"As the Dublin rules do not foresee the suspension of transfers by the receiving member states, the Commission has asked Hungary for immediate clarification on the nature and extent of the technical failure, and on the measures taken to remedy the situation," a Commission spokeswoman said.

The Hungarian government said in a statement: "Hungary has used up the capacities at its disposal."

"The situation requires fast action; in this escalated situation Hungary needs to take a move ahead of EU decisions," it said.

Hungary last week announced plans to build a fence along its border with Serbia to stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa who enter Europe through the Balkans. Most eventually move on to wealthierWestern Europe.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Haziran 2015, 10:16