Hungary will adopt the European Parliament’s system of asset declaration, which is effectively identical to the system in use in Germany, Máté Kocsis, parliamentary group leader of the ruling Fidesz party, said on Facebook on Wednesday.
The proposal submitted by Fidesz will apply to lawmakers and those who prepare asset declarations, Kocsis said. The same rules will be established this year for everyone else who is required by law to declare their assets, such as mayors and local councilors, he added.
“Hungary’s asset declaration system has drawn a lot of criticism over the past years and decades, so regardless of whether or not the criticism is warranted, it is worth making a change,” Kocsis said.
The “double standards applied by Brussels” against Hungary “have unfortunately become a part of our everyday lives”, so the most appropriate course of action is to incorporate the rules used in the EP “word-for-word into Hungarian law”, he said. Given that the same system is in use in Germany, the decision will help prevent international disputes “at least in this area”, he added.
FactEach year, Hungarian politicians have to submit their asset declarations by January 31st. The documents are then made publicly available by uploading them to the Hungarian parliament’s website. On paper, the aim of the scheme is for the general public to be able to keep track of the financial situation of their elected leaders in power. However, according to many experts and NGOs, the reality is that the current legislation on asset declarations is not fit to give a true picture of the real financial situation of politicians. Instead, they claim, these documents often contain false information, while the Hungarian regulation is full of legal loopholes and is easy to manipulate.
The asset declaration system submitted by Hungarian politicians has indeed long been heavily criticized, as their veracity often appears suspicious and questionable, which hardly seems to reflect the actual financial situation of the person holding public office.
Previously, representatives of Fidesz often dismissed these concerns by pointing out that Hungary has one of the strictest asset declaration systems in Europe.
This would now be replaced by the much more permissive and lenient system used in the EU. Members of the European parliament only have to declare an income category they fall into, there is no need for an EP representative to state their exact financial situation. This is also the case for real estate, which has to be disclosed for a public figure in Hungary but not for an MEP. Moreover, the declaration of family members’ assets would not be compulsory either, which is currently in Hungary.
Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI