EC Infringement procedure against Hungary law on foreign-funded civil organisations (NGOs)

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Publication Date 2017
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Summary:

Reports and information relating to the infringement procedure launched by the European Commission against Hungary over a law adopted in June 2017 relating to foreign-funded civil organisations (NGOs). This law was known as one of the 'Soros laws'.

Further information:

The Hungarian law introduces new obligations for certain categories of NGOs receiving annual foreign funding above HUF7.2 million (approx. €24,000) to register and label themselves in all their publications, websites and press material as 'organisations supported from abroad', and to report specific information about the funding they receive from abroad to the Hungarian authorities. These organisations face sanctions if they fail to comply with the new reporting and transparency obligations. The Commission concluded that this law does not comply with EU law for the following reasons:

  • it interferes unduly with fundamental rights as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular the right to freedom of association;
  • it introduces unjustified and disproportionate restrictions to the free movement of capital, as outlined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;
  • it raises concerns as regards the respect of the right to protection of private life and of personal data.

The infringement procedure was launched on 13 July 2017 by the European Commission sending a Letter of Formal Notice to the Hungarian authorities over the adopted legislation. The recipients were given one month to respond to this Letter - the reply was sent to the European Commission on 14 August. On 4 October, the Commission moved to the second stage of the procedure by sending a Reasoned Opinion to Hungary, due to insufficient response from the national authorities to the legal concerns. Again, national authorities were given one month to respond accordingly. On 7 December, the Commission decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for its law on foreign-funded NGOs.

Related Link(s)
News
EurActiv, 13/07/2017: European Commission steps up infringement procedures against Hungary https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/european-commission-steps-up-infringement-procedures-against-hungary/
EUObserver, 13/07/2017: EU launches legal probe into Hungary's NGO law https://euobserver.com/justice/138521
Politico, 13/07/2017: Brussels launches infringement proceedings against Hungary https://www.politico.eu/article/brussels-launches-infringement-proceedings-against-hungary/
Deutsche Welle, 13/07/2017: European Commission takes on Hungary over 'Soros laws' https://p.dw.com/p/2gTUf
The Irish Times, 14/07/2017: EU acts against Hungary as its leader targets liberal tycoon Soros https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/eu-acts-against-hungary-as-its-leader-targets-liberal-tycoon-soros-1.3155335
Reuters, 04/10/2017: EU executive steps up action against Hungary over NGO law https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1C92HG

Official
European Commission: Press Release, 13/07/2017: Hungary: Commission launches infringement procedure for law on foreign-funded NGOs https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_17_1982
European Commission: Press Release, 04/10/2017: European Commission steps up infringement against Hungary on NGO Law https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_17_3663
European Commission: Press Release, 07/12/2017: European Commission refers Hungary to the Court of Justice for its NGO Law https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_17_5003

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