Hungary closes its transit zones

In reaction to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, Hungary has closed its migrant transit zones and transferred the asylum seekers to other locations. This comes after the court ruled last week that the fenced-off camps on the border with Serbia were not compatible with EU law. But commentators don't believe the closures are indictative of real changes in Hungary's refugee policy.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

No real change

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung doubts that this step will bring any substantial changes to Hungary's refugee policy:

“The country will continue to refuse to participate in the fair distribution of refugees among EU countries. And of course everything else will remain the same in Budapest. Orbán's government will continue to test how far it can go. For Europe this means that putting pressure on Budapest is worthwhile, because as long as Orbán doesn't want a major confrontation, the other member states can exert influence on this difficult partner. So far, so good. But they can also only go so far in this.”

Magyar Hang (HU) /

Orbán's next dance step

Hungary's decision is part of a political power game, journalist Matild Torkos writes in Magyar Hang:

“It's good to know that there are still judgments that the Hungarian government acknowledges and implements, albeit grudgingly. ... Nevertheless it's clear that this decision by the Hungarian government is just another step in Orbán's peacock dance [as he once described his negotiating tactics with the EU]. Now he's trying to avoid a slap in the face from Brussels with a dodge to the left. In any event there was no longer any reason to maintain the transit zones. The almost 300 asylum seekers [currently staying there] can easily be accommodated elsewhere under more civilised conditions until the authorities have examined their asylum requests.”

Index (HU) /

Budapest must reform its asylum regulations

Hungary's government has its work cut out for it after the ruling, writes journalist László Arató in Index:

“If Hungary wants to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Justice, it must release those held in transit zones who have been there for more than 28 days as soon as possible and provide them with accommodation. ... The asylum applications must be assessed and cannot be automatically rejected simply on the grounds that these people have come to Hungary from Serbia. ... The next step must be to repeal Hungarian rules that conflict with EU law.”

Mandiner (HU) /

Impracticable EU guidelines

The Hungarian asylum system is a response to dysfunctional EU regulations, the pro-government weekly Mandiner counters:

“Since 2015 it has become clear that the EU's asylum system is unable to cope with the new migration and asylum situation. This regulation was not originally drawn up for situations in which people enter EU territory en masse and in many cases abuse the right of asylum. ... This is the question that has perhaps most divided the EU's political scene in recent years. There are fundamentally different positions among the member states, and a ruling that aims to maintain a solution that has been dysfunctional for years probably won't remedy this. A real solution would be a sustainable new EU regulation that reflects the requirements of everyday life.”