FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives to attend a face-to-face EU summit amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Brussels, Belgium December 10, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool/File Photo
February 17, 2021
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission is expected to announce more legal proceedings against Hungary on Thursday for failing to change a law requiring civil organisations to disclose foreign donors, three officials said.
The European Union’s top court ruled last year that the law “introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions with regard to both the organisations … and the persons granting them such support” in breach of fundamental EU rights, including on protection of personal data and freedom of association.
The Commission, the EU’s executive, is now preparing to launch further legal proceedings against Hungary because it has failed since the ruling to change the 2017 law, the three officials said on condition of anonymity.
A decision by the Commission to trigger an “infringement procedure”, which is used against member states seen to be violating the bloc’s laws, was pending final approval on Wednesday, they said.
The Hungarian government and Hungary’s EU mission did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has rejected EU criticism of the law, and of other legislation which the Commission says undercuts democratic standards.
If the decision is taken to launch an infringement procedure, Hungary will be sent a “letter of formal notice” and will have two months to respond.
If Hungary does not comply within this period, the Commission can demand that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) fine Budapest.
The EU has long accused Orban of failing to meet democratic standards on the freedom of courts, media, non-governmental organisations and academics, and of violating the law with his stance on migration.
Orban dismissed the criticism in an interview with Reuters last September, saying he was a “freedom fighter”.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Jan Strupczewski, Editing by Timothy Heritage)