EC steps up infringement procedure over NGO law

EU

The European Commission (EC) Wednesday stepped up an ongoing infringement procedure against Hungary over legislation on foreign-funded NGOs that it says “interferes unduly” with the rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and introduces “unjustified and disproportionate” restrictions to the free movement of capital.

The EC launched the infringement procedure over the new law in July with a “letter of formal notice,” the first step in the procedure. It issued a “reasoned opinion” - the second step in the procedure - to Hungary on Wednesday, after the countryʼs explanations failed to address the ECʼs “serious concerns,” according to a press release.

The Hungarian legislation requires NGOs that receive foreign funding of over HUF 7.2 million a year to specify that they are “organizations supported from abroad” in all publications, websites and press materials they disseminate. The legislation also establishes a reporting obligation for this funding, as well as sanctions for failure to comply with the provisions of the law.

The EC said provisions in the law “indirectly discriminate and disproportionately restrict donations from abroad to civil society organizations.”

“The Commission is also of the opinion that Hungary violates the right to freedom of association and the right to protection of private life and personal data enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, read in conjunction with the EU Treaty provisions,” it added.

Hungary has one month to take the necessary measures to comply with the reasoned opinion. If it fails to do so, the EC may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

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