The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found Thursday that Hungary’s criminalization of activities aimed at helping migrants who did not fulfil its national criteria for the grant of asylum violated EU law.
The opinion comes in response to a series of laws, more popularly known as “Stop Soros laws,” passed by the Hungarian Parliament in 2018, which had amended Hungary’s asylum laws and made the conditions for accessing international protection procedures and the conditions for carrying on activities intended to aid migrants for such international protection more difficult. More concretely, the amendments first introduced a new ground for inadmissibility for applications for international protection. It also criminalized activities intended to enable migrants to start the international protection procedure and further laid down restrictions on persons prosecuted or punished for such an offense.
In response to the new laws, the European Commission had brought the case before the ECJ as part of an infringement procedure it launched against Hungary in 2018 over its non-compliance with asylum law.
In his opinion, Advocate General Athanasios Rantos first recalled that the ECJ, in a 2020 ruling had already considered the introduction of a new ground of inadmissibility for international protection as unlawful. He further held that the subsequent provisions criminalizing assistance for applicants for international protection “constitutes an unjustified obstacle to the exercise of the rights guaranteed by the EU legislation concerning assistance for applicants for international protection and, accordingly, constitutes a failure to fulfill the obligations under that legislation.”
While the advocate general’s opinions are not binding on the ECJ, their rulings are often followed by the court in its subsequent judgment.