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Summaries of EU Legislation


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Commission Opinion [COM(1997)2001 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission report [COM(1998)700 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission report [COM(1999)505 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission report [COM(2000)705 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1748 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2002)700 final - SEC(2002)1404 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2003)675 final - SEC(2003)1205 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]


In its Opinion of July 1997, the Commission considered that in the field of justice and home affairs the necessary structures had been created but that it was difficult to assess their impact and effectiveness. Hungary was well placed to conform to the rules imposed by the European Union (EU) in the next few years, as long as the momentum of progress was maintained and effective training and institutional development programmes were implemented in the major justice and home affairs institutions. In addition, the Commission stressed that priority should be given to effective border management including a visa system increasingly modelled on that of the European Union and an asylum policy without geographical reservations and with sufficient resources.

The November 1998 Report noted that Hungary was capable of making progress towards enactment of the Community acquis in this area and, in particular, of focusing its efforts on the two major deficiencies affecting the short-term priorities of the Accession Partnership identified in the July 1997 Opinion: border management and an asylum policy with no geographical limits.

The October 1999 Report found that Hungary had made some progress in the area of justice and home affairs, particularly as regards police matters and the fight against corruption, with more measured progress on immigration, drugs and justice. However, no real improvement could be reported on border control or asylum.

In its November 2000 Report, the Commission noted that some progress had been made as regards visas, border control, immigration policy and the right to asylum. No significant progress had been made with regard to bringing judicial cooperation into line with the acquis.

In its November 2001 Report, the Commission noted that significant progress had been achieved in Hungary in numerous fields such as visa policy, immigration, asylum, judicial cooperation and the fight against organised crime.

The October 2002 Report notes that Hungary has reinforced the necessary administrative structures and has pursued the alignment of its legislation, notably as regards visa policy, measures to combat fraud and corruption and the Schengen Action Plan. Overall, Hungarian legislation is almost entirely in line with the acquis.

In its November 2003 Report, the Commission noted that Hungary had now completed the alignment of its legislation, but it criticises delays in relation to external border surveillance and the right of asylum.


Free movement of persons

The principle of free movement and the right to residence of all European citizens is provided for by Article 14 (former Article 7a) of the Treaty as well as by the provisions on European citizenship (Article 18, former Article 8a). Among the matters of common interest to the Member States, the Maastricht Treaty included asylum policy, the crossing of the external frontiers of the Union and immigration policy. The Amsterdam Treaty, which came into force on 1 May 1999, incorporated these into the EC Treaty (Articles 61 to 69), while making provision for a transitional period of five years before Community procedures would be applied to the full. In the long term " an area of freedom, security and justice " will be created without checks on persons at internal frontiers, irrespective of their nationality. At the same time, common rules must be laid down relating to checks on the external frontiers of the Union, visas, asylum and immigration policies. The action plan of the Council and the Commission of 3 December 1998 sets out a timetable for the measures to be adopted in order to achieve these objectives within five years.

Some Member States already apply common rules in these areas under the Schengen Agreements, the first of which was signed in 1985. These intergovernmental agreements have been incorporated into the European Union following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty and now constitute part of the Community acquis to be adopted by the applicant countries.

Poland has stated that it wants to comply with the provisions of the Schengen Agreement. It has begun to prepare for this and has asked the Member States for assistance, in particular with regard to the strengthening of checks at the external frontiers.

Asylum policy

European asylum policy, a matter of common interest to the Member States since the Maastricht Treaty, is based mainly on instruments without legal force such as, for example, the London resolutions of 1992 on requests for asylum manifestly unfounded and the principle of "host third countries" or on international conventions such as the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees.

On 15 June 1990, under the Schengen Agreements, the Member States signed the Dublin Convention, which came into force on 1 September 1997, determining the State responsible for examining applications for asylum lodged in one of the Member States of the European Union. This matter had not been settled by the Geneva Convention but various implementing measures were subsequently adopted by the Committee that it set up.

In addition to the Council and Commission action plan of 3 December 1998, a comprehensive strategy is necessary. Hence the task force on asylum and migration set up by the Council.

Immigration policy

Immigration policy, a matter of common interest since the Maastricht Treaty, comes under intergovernmental cooperation in the field of home affairs but does not yet really exist as a European policy. No rules have been drafted relating to the entry into the Community and the right of residence of nationals of non-member countries. However, the action plan of 3 December 1998 does provide for the adoption of specific measures in this area.

Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Few measures have been adopted in the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters, an area in which the EU can act since the Maastricht Treaty. To date, the most important measure is the Convention on the service of documents in civil or commercial matters in the Member States of the European Union. Following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, there is now a proposal for a Regulation to replace this Convention. The main instruments to facilitate civil judicial cooperation have been drafted at international level (the Brussels and Rome Conventions, for example).

In addition, in December 1998, the Council and Commission action plan listed the objectives to be attained in the medium term (two years) and the longer term (five years) and set out the list of measures to be adopted for that purpose.

Police, customs and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

The existing legislation in these fields stems mainly from the cooperation framework defined in Title VI of the European Union Treaty or the " third pillar ". The Amsterdam Treaty amended the legal provisions in the matter by creating a link with the " area of freedom, security and justice ". Now Title VI deals mainly with police cooperation, the fight against organised crime, the fight against drug trafficking, the fight against corruption and fraud, judicial cooperation in criminal matters and customs cooperation.

The existing legislation relating to justice and home affairs presupposes a high degree of specific cooperation between government departments as well as the preparation and effective application of rules and regulations. To this end, the first "Octopus" programme was financed by the European Commission and the Council of Europe between 1996 and 1998. The aim of "Octopus II" (1999-2000) is to facilitate the adoption of new legislative and constitutional measures by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and also by some Newly Independent States along the lines of the rules in force in the EU by providing training and assistance for all persons responsible for the fight against corruption and organised crime. In addition, a pact to combat organised crime was signed by the EU and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe on 28 May 1998.

Within the Union, the Council and Commission action plan of 3 December 1998 sets out the various measures to be adopted in the short term (two years) and the medium term (five years) in order to establish a genuine area of freedom, security and justice. These measures include the setting up of the European Police Office (Europol), the organisation of relations between the Office and the judicial authorities of the Member States, the incorporation of the Schengen acquis relating to police and customs cooperation, and the organisation of the gathering and storage of the requisite information concerning transborder crime.

The Europe Agreement and the White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market

The Europe Agreement with Poland includes provision for cooperation in the fight against drug abuse and money laundering.

The White Paper does not deal directly with third-pillar subjects, but reference is made to first-pillar matters such as money laundering and freedom of movement of persons, which are closely related to justice and home affairs considerations.


In the area of data protection, Hungary completed the alignment of its legislation with a new Data Protection and Public-interest Disclosure Act passed in June 2003. The National Supervisory Body set up to supervise NEBEK (the counterpart authority for Europol) became operational in November 2001 and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection was appointed for a six-term in December 2001.

Following the introduction of new visa requirements for nationals of Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Russia, Hungary has also introduced visa requirements for nationals of Cuba, the Seychelles and the Republic of South Africa. Visa requirements have been abolished for the special administrative regions of Macao (December 2001) and Hong Kong (February 2002). However, Hungary must continue its efforts as regards visa requirements and visa exemptions. A new visa sticker with higher security standards has been introduced under the new Aliens Entry and Residence Act, which entered into force in January 2002. Considerable progress was made in 2003 as regards administrative capacity (staffing and computer systems to establish a consular network).

A strategy on the integrated development of border crossing points was adopted in January 2001. It provided for the participation of all bodies concerned by external border controls, inter alia the Border Guard and the Customs and Finance Guard During 2001 the Border Guard received training and new equipment.

This modernisation has continued, in line with Schengen requirements. A revised version of the Schengen Action Plan was presented in July 2002 and is now being put into effect. Hungary is currently modernising its border control posts and is constructing and renovating border crossing points on its eastern border.

Overall, Hungarian legislation is broadly in line with the Community/Schengen acquis, particularly since the adoption of the Law on the protection of national frontiers and on border guards of January 2001. In May 2001, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a law distinguishing between internal and external borders in line with the Schengen requirements. Simplified border-crossing agreements have been entered into with Slovakia (2002) and Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro, Romania and Ukraine (2003). Negotiations are in progress for cooperation agreements with neighbouring countries on border controls and crime prevention.

As far as immigration policy is concerned, the legislation is substantially aligned and the requisite administrative structures are in place.

Hungary is a target country for asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh. In May 2001, the new Asylum Act brought Hungary into line with the Schengen acquis as regards the definition of unaccompanied minors. Recently amended, the Act entered into force in January 2003. Immigration and naturalisation services increased their capacities, and the renovation of reception centres proceeded, even though in 2003 there were still some asylum-seekers held in detention centres for more than a year. Further efforts are needed to promote the social integration of refugees. A strategy to improve refugee integration is currently being worked out.

A central unit has been set up to establish the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which will be compatible with EURODAC.

Hungary has continued to develop police cooperation with its neighbouring countries and the EU Member States. Hungary needs to continue its efforts to establish a responsible, reliable and coordinated police force before the date of accession and to develop new techniques.

Since April 2002, the centre for international cooperation between police forces has been providing backing for police cooperation at international level and implementation of the cooperation agreement with Europol.

Hungary established a body responsible for coordinating the fight against organised crime under the supervision of the Minister of Interior in April 2001. Its brief is to collect, analyse and process information relating to organised crime, to coordinate investigations and to prevent duplication between the various departments involved. But the Commission suggests that there should be better sharing of information on economic and organised crime and a substantial injection of financial resources to give effect to the measures that are provided for.

Hungary continues to be a country of transit and destination for trafficking in human beings. On the basis of the Aliens Entry and Residence Act, which has been in force since January 2002, detected traffickers may be expelled immediately. A package of amendments to the penal code, in force since April 2002, has brought about alignment with the acquis and the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (Palermo Convention). But Hungary still needs to ratify the Convention and its protocol. It also needs to sign and ratify the protocol to the Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition and to ratify the European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

As regards the fight against terrorism, Hungary has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Hungary is a party to all other terrorism-related UN conventions. Hungary also joined the EU common positions on the fight against terrorism. A special unit has been set up within the police to freeze financial assets of suspected terrorists and terrorist organisations. Its purpose is to ensure effective implementation of the policy on counter-terrorism.

Further progress has been made in the fight against fraud and corruption. Overall, the legal framework is almost entirely in line with the acquis. In January 2003, Hungary ratified the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption. In addition, the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure have been amended to align the country's law on the acquis. Negotiations are under way with 17 countries for bilateral agreements on terrorism, organised crime and corruption. A national central office to analyse bank notes and coins must be designated. In December 2001, a new law was adopted on the criminal liability of legal persons.

To help safeguard the financial interests of the Community, Hungary set up an anti-fraud interministerial coordination committee in November 2001. In addition, various bodies have been set up to make the fight against corruption more effective.

As regards corruption, Hungary is one of the best-placed former communist countries. The strategy to combat corruption, adopted in 2001, has prompted many improvements to the legislation through the "glass pocket programme" adopted in April 2003. But there are still serious problems here. In its report published in March 2003 the GRECO (Group of Countries against Corruption) points out among other things that corruption in relation to political funding seems to be a particular problem.

With the entry into force of its legislation on money laundering in 2003, Hungary's law is now fully aligned on the Community acquis. The OECD Financial Action Task Force has removed Hungary from its list of non-cooperative countries. Furthermore, the Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority is a particularly competent body. It recently set up a financial intelligence unit.

In September 2003 the Hungary aligned its legislation on the fight against drugs. A new comprehensive strategy was approved in 2000 and a plan of action followed in November 2002. Despite progress made in implementing the strategy, more financing is necessary for prevention programmes. A National Contact Point for Cooperation and Information Exchange with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has not yet been established.

In the area of customs cooperation, Hungary has concluded bilateral mutual assistance agreements with a number of Member States. Hungary also concluded customs cooperation agreements with Argentina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kyrgyzstan in 2001 and with Latvia in 2002.

Judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters must continue so as to ensure implementation of Community instruments. In particular, Hungary must deal with the 2002 legislation on the European arrest warrant. With a view to Hungary's participation in European networks and institutions (European Judicial Network, EUROJUST), the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor General have been designated as contact points. Provisions on international private law were adopted in 2000 in accordance with the Brussels Convention in the areas of jurisdiction, mutual recognition and enforcement of judgements.

All human rights judicial instruments (which form part of the Justice and Home Affairs acquis) have been ratified.

Last updated: 10.08.2005