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May 10, 2017

Hungary says EU should focus on illegal immigrants rather than "pestering" EU citizens at border checks

The Hungarian government is temporarily suspending the implementation of the EU regulation on systematic border checks - and will instead be introducing targeted border checks

Hungary has said that the European Union should focus on stopping and checking illegal immigrants and security risks rather than “pestering” EU citizens.

The Council of the European Union introduced mandatory systematic border checks from the beginning of April, according to which all citizens from the EU and third countries must be checked when entering or leaving the European Union via the Schengen border.

The regulation also states that member states must be allowed to decide not to carry out the checks if they can confirm through risk analysis that easing checks will not result in a security risk.

Károly Kontrát, the Ministry of Interior’s parliamentary state secretary, stated that in light of this "the Hungarian government is temporarily suspending the implementation of the EU regulation on systematic border checks." .

Kontrát explained that the measure had led to delays of several hours at certain border crossing stations, and it was likely that delays will become even longer during the summer period. “Accordingly, the government feels it is necessary to temporarily suspend systematic border checks - the related government decree will soon be published in the Hungarian Gazette - and will instead be introducing targeted border checks," he added.

“Hungary has had reservations about the regulation and its practical application from the beginning, and regarded the past few weeks as a test run," Kontrát said. “Illegal immigration is endangering Europe’s most important acquis: the Schengen system and the free movement of persons," he added.

Croatia and Slovenia are other examples of nations who are looking at the suspension of systematic border checks, government sources reveal.

According to György Bakondi, the chief security advisor to the prime minister, it is clear that the requirement to check everyone’s identity, the authenticity of their documents and the fact that no arrest warrant has been issued against the individual based on available databases, is already causing major delays well before the summer peak in tourism.

He said the procedure is a measure that is ”harassing EU citizens and slowing border crossing”, noting that migration pressure on external borders remains high.