Hungarian Constitutional Identity and the ECJ Decision on Refugee Quota

The outcome of the lawsuit launched by the Hungarian Government against the EU Council’s decision on compulsory relocation of asylum seekers before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) took no-one by surprise, neither in Budapest nor elsewhere. Some may have hoped that the complaint would succeed legally, but nevertheless it has always been primarily a part of a well-devised political strategy based on the idea of national identity as a concept of constitutional and EU law.

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The Hungarian Constitutional Court and Constitutional Identity

Ever since the 2010 parliamentary elections Hungary has set off on the journey to became an ‘illiberal’ member state of the EU, which does not comply with the shared values of rule of law and democracy, the ‘basic structure’ of Europe. The new government of Viktor Orbán from the very beginning has justified the non-compliance by referring to national sovereignty, and lately to the country’s constitutional identity guaranteed in Article 4 (2) TEU. This constitutional battle started with the invalid anti-migrant referendum, was followed by the failed constitutional amendment, and concluded in early December last year by a decision of the Constitutional Court, in which the packed body in a binding constitutional interpretation rubber-stamped the constitutional identity defense of the Orbán government.

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