EU’s Frontex withdraws from Hungary after its mistreatment of migrants

European Court of Justice rules that Hungary broke laws pertaining to protection of asylum seekers

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, April 8, 2019, a sign reading: "State Border" is attached to a fence at Hungary's border with Serbia near the village Asotthalom, Hungary.  The European Union’s border control agency Frontex, said Wednesday Jan. 27, 2021, it is suspending operations in Hungary after the government in Budapest did not comply with a ruling by Europe’s highest court on the rights of asylum-seekers. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, FILE)

The European Union's border control force Frontex withdrew its resources from Hungary over the latter's treatment of migrants on the bloc's border.

This is the first time Frontex has suspended activities in an EU country and follows the government in Budapest's failure to honour a December ruling by the European Court of Justice that Hungary had breached laws on protecting asylum seekers.

The court also found that Hungary had illegally pushed back migrants into neighbouring Serbia, which goes against EU rules that asylum applications must be evaluated and accepted.

“We evaluated the situation and had little choice but to go ahead and suspend the operation,” Frontex spokesman Chris Borowski told The Associated Press.

Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, welcomed the decision.

It is unclear how long the suspension of Frontex’s operations will last.

During the European migrant crisis that forced millions into Europe from 2014, Hungary became a crucial crossing point on the EU frontier. Frontex responded by sending officers, vehicles and surveillance equipment to help secure the border and identify forged documents.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban adopted a hardline stance against immigration and refused to comply with EU policies that seek to fairly distribute migrants and refugees around the bloc.

In December, Hungary’s justice minister Judit Varga dismissed the ECJ’s ruling as “devoid of purpose” and insisted that “strict border control is maintained”.