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European Commission Launches Infringement Procedure Against Hungary Over Controversial NGO Law

Tamás Székely 2017.07.13.

The European Commission (EC) has launched an infringement procedure against Hungary over the law on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs.

The EC said on Thursday it has sent Hungary a letter of formal notice on the matter, which officially launches the procedure. The EC said it has multiple concerns over the law. Hungary now has one month to respond to the commission’s concerns.

The so-called “NGO law”, which triggered harsh international criticism, requiring civil groups to register with a court as foreign-backed groups once their foreign donations reach 7.2 million forints (EUR 23,400) was passed by parliament last month. European Union funds do not count towards the threshold.

Under the law, details of NGOs that register are made public and they are required to declare on their websites and in all of their press materials that they are considered organisations funded from abroad by law. Civil groups that fail to disclose their source of foreign funding will be sent a notice by a public prosecutor calling on them to comply with their obligations. NGOs that fail to fulfil their obligations after a second notice are fined.

Meanwhile, the European Commission also said it stepped up an infringement procedure against Hungary over amendments to its higher education law tightening rules governing the operations of foreign universities in the country.

The EC said it has sent the Hungarian government a reasoned opinion — the second step in an infringement procedure — on the issue. Hungary now has one month to amend the law in question so that it complies with EU rules. If Hungary fails to address the EC’s concerns, the executive body could take the matter to the European Court of Justice.

The EC launched the infringement procedure at the end of April, shortly after parliament passed the amendments. Critics of the law have said it puts the operations of Budapest’s Central European University under threat.

via MTI