On 12 February 2021, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Dietmar Köster, Bettina Vollath, Maria Grapini, Łukasz Kohut, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Kati Piri, Milan Brglez, Pietro Bartolo, Sylvie Guillaume, Giuliano Pisapia and Isabel Santos of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“On 30 January 2021, Le Monde published an article entitled ‘EU accused of illegal pushbacks’, describing widespread pushbacks at the EU’s external borders, including in Hungary, Croatia and Greece, all countries where Frontex has been operational. The article notes that according to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungary has carried out 50 000 pushbacks since 2016. Despite the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling of 17 December 2020 establishing that the Hungarian legal regime violates the right of asylum, the Hungarian Government has continued with these practices. On 8 February 2021, Le Monde published the article ‘New accusations against EU agency Frontex’, describing the lack of consideration for fundamental rights at Frontex and noting that the Fundamental Rights Forum has hardly ever been consulted.
1. Since 2015, has Frontex informed the Commission and the Frontex Management Board of any cases of pushbacks in Hungary or in the other countries cited in the article?
2. What monitoring mechanisms does the Commission have at its disposal to identify illegal pushbacks, particularly in Hungary, now that Frontex has suspended its operations there?
3. Given that legal certainty was established by the CJEU ruling of 17 December 2020, how will the Commission use the instruments at its disposal to ensure compliance with the rule of law in the EU?”
On 27 April 2021, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Union law currently does not provide for a monitoring mechanism as described in the Honourable Members’ question. In its proposal for a Screening Regulation (COM (2020)612), the Commission included an obligation to establish an independent monitoring mechanism in each Member State to ensure compliance with fundamental rights in relation to the screening of third-country nationals at the external borders. Independently of this proposal, Member States can at any time set up or allow for independent monitoring mechanisms under national law, and the Commission is supporting such initiatives.
The Commission has requested from the Hungarian authorities information on the measures they have taken to ensure compliance with the judgment of the Court of Justice of 17 December 2020 in Case C-808/18. The Hungarian authorities replied on 26 February 2021 and the Commission is currently analysing the reply. If the reply does not establish that the necessary measures have been taken, the Commission will not hesitate to resort to the procedure laid down in Article 260(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”
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