Hungary announced on Tuesday (23 June) that it had suspended the application of the so-called Dublin III Asylum Regulation citing “protection of Hungarian interests”. The application was suspended for an indefinite period of time and prompted an immediate reaction of Brussels, which asked Budapest for explanation. The rule, which makes migrants to apply for an asylum in the country in which they first arrive, has been heavily criticized by Italy and Greece, which bear the heaviest burden of the migrant crisis. Budapest said that “the boat is full” and emphasized that the government “needs to protect Hungarian interests and population”, although it wished for a European solution.
Hungary has been among the most generous recipients of asylum seekers. In 2014, the country received more asylum seekers per capita than other EU members except for Sweden. Last year, it accepted almost 43,000 migrants, which is an increase by 41,000 from 2,000 in 2012. This year, about 60,000 migrants passed through Hungary, most of them crossing via Serbia. Budapest explained that the country had already “exhausted the resources at its disposal” to make Hungary home for more asylum seekers. Moreover, the government has sharpened its anti-migration rhetoric and announced that it was building a four-meter high fence on its border with Serbia, whereby this move sparked a major controversy, making headlines around Europe.
The EU asked Hungary for a prompt clarification of why it had suspended the regulation saying that Budapest only informed Member States that it was “due to technical reasons for an uncertain period of time”. “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 European Commission spokeswoman said in a statement.