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Brussels takes legal action against Hungary's for new 'sovereignty law'

08 February 2024, 00:11 CET
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Brussels takes legal action against Hungary's for new 'sovereignty law'

Viktor Orban - © European Union 2015 - source EP

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission decided Wednesday to open an infringement procedure against Hungary for violating EU law with its new Defence of Sovereignty law.

The decision follows a thorough Commission assessment of Hungary's new law on the 'Defence of National Sovereignty' - adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 12 December 2023 and in force since 22 December.

The law establishes a so-called 'Office for the Defence of Sovereignty', tasked with investigating specific activities carried out in the interest of another State or a foreign body, organisation or natural person, if they are likely to violate or jeopardise the sovereignty of Hungary; and organisations whose activities using foreign funding may influence the outcome of elections or the will of voters.

The law also contains provisions and amendments to existing Hungarian legislation that prohibit candidates, political parties and associations participating in elections from using foreign funding to influence or attempt to influence the will of voters for the elections in question, and to punish under criminal law the use of foreign funding in the context of elections.

The EU executive considers that the Hungarian legislation at stake violates several provisions of primary and secondary EU law, among others the democratic values of the Union; the principle of democracy and the electoral rights of EU citizens; several fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, such as the right to respect for private and family life, the right to protection of personal data, the freedom of expression and information, the freedom of association, the electoral rights of EU citizens, the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, the privilege against self-incrimination and the legal professional privilege; the requirements of EU law relating to data protection and several rules applicable to the internal market.

Hungary now has two months to reply to the letter of formal notice. If it does not address the grievances identified by the Commission, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion as the next step in the infringement procedure.

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