BRUSSELS: The European Union on Thursday took Hungary to the EU's highest court over controversial legislation against assisting migrants, known as the “Stop Soros" laws.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, decided to refer Hungary to the Luxembourg-based court over “legislation that criminalises activities in support of asylum applications and further restricts the right to request asylum", a statement said.
The commission has clashed repeatedly with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, especially since the migration crisis of 2015.
The clashes come amid broader fears that Hungary, Poland and other eastern countries from the former Soviet bloc are turning away from the democratic values on which the EU is built.
The commission first denounced as illegal the so-called “Stop Soros" laws passed a year ago, which include a punishment of up to a year in prison for anyone assisting people to enter Hungary illegally.
The legislation was dubbed the “Stop Soros" laws after liberal US billionaire George Soros, accused by Orban's government of orchestrating migration to Europe.
In other action, the commission launched proceedings against Hungary over the denying of food to migrants detained in transit zones at the border with Serbia.
In a letter of formal notice to Hungary, Brussels found that the detention conditions “do not respect the material conditions" demanded by EU laws, including the bloc's charter of fundamental rights.