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Sweden threatens legal action againt Hungary after it refuses to take refugees

'[The] Commission has to ensure governments stick to agreements,' says migration minister

Harriet Agerholm
Friday 07 October 2016 18:31 BST
Migration minister threatens to take Hungary to European Court of Justice
Migration minister threatens to take Hungary to European Court of Justice (Getty)

Sweden will take Hungary to the European Court of Justice unless it starts taking back asylum seekers from other EU countries, the Swedish minister of justice and migration has said.

Morgan Johansson wrote to the EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, calling on him to impose the Dublin Rules on Hungary.

Sweden has joined Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway in condemning Hungary for breaking EU Dublin rules. The accord stipulates refugees should seek asylum in the first Schengen zone country they arrive in.

“The commission is the guardian of the EU treaties. It has to ensure that governments stick to agreements they once signed up to,” Mr Johansson said in a letter.

The minister threatened to challenge Hungary in the European Court of Justice over the violation.

He told Swedish radio the EU migration commissioner replied to his letter and agreed Hungary must comply.

According to the Swedish Migration Agency, there are some 1,000 asylum seekers who registered in Hungary waiting to be transferred back there. In March, the agency announced it was suspending all transfers to Hungary after it received complaints about their asylum system.

Yet Hungary claims the refugees first entered the EU through Greece, so it is responsible for examining their claims instead.

According to the Dublin agreement, an EU country has six months to transfer a person to the country they were first registered in.

But if the transfer is not made within that timeframe, it becomes responsible itself for the asylum seeker instead.

Government’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Hungary would refuse to accept returns of asylum seekers from other EU states.

"We are not going to take responsibility for the shortcomings of other countries," he said.

Austria has also threatened to take legal action against Hungary over failing to meet its Dublin agreement committment.

Hungary has mounted its own legal challenge in the European Court of Justice over the Brussels plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece using mandatory quotas.

In early October, the anti-immigrant government held a referendum on the quota system. More than 98 per cent of voters backed the government in its rejection of the mandatory quota system, but the turnout for the election was 43.9 per cent.

While the government claimed the result “sweeping victory”, analysts said the result was an “embarrassing but not totally catastrophic defeat” for Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Mr Oban’s government has erected razor wire fences along its southern borders.

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