The European Commission has warned Hungary over its so-called ‘Stop Soros’ law. Brussels sent a letter of formal notice – the first step in a legal process – on July 19.

The Hungarian government is in breach of the EU’s charter of fundamental rights over a law that criminalises people who help asylum seekers, the European Commission said. This could lead to Hungary being taken to the European court of justice (ECJ) and told to change the law.

As reported by The Guardian, the announcements are a sign of the deepening standoff between Brussels and Viktor Orban, who was re-elected in April for a fourth term as Hungary’s prime minister.

Shortly after his re-election, Hungary passed legislation making it a criminal offence for individuals and NGOs to help asylum claimants and migrants.

In a separate report, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the so-called “Stop Soros” law seeks to restrict non-governmental organizations supported by US financier George Soros.

Hungary has two months to respond to the European Commission’s letter of notice.

Meanwhile, the Commission’s decision on Hungary was welcomed by the president of the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament. Udo Bullmann explained: “It is just unbelievable that in the heart of the European Union we have a country where people can go to jail for offering help to migrants. The purpose of this law is to intimidate workers of NGOs who do a great job, providing humanitarian aid to vulnerable people seeking asylum. This is not only against EU asylum rules but also against everything that we recognise as the rule of law, basic human rights and European values.”

Bullmann also called on the European People’s Party (EPP) Group – in which Orban’s ruling Fidesz party is a member – to decide whether a politician like Orban is still tolerable for them.

“I also applaud the second decision taken today by the European Commission regarding Hungary, said Bullmann. “Such practices or laws like the ‘Stop Soros’ package should have no place in Europe. We have to do everything we can to defend Europe as a free, democratic and open society. In Hungary, Poland and everywhere this is needed. If we do not react, we will allow the illiberal drift to continue.”