Lázár: Hungary ready to compensate Austrian farmers

EU

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Hungary is ready to settle cases with approximately 200 Austrian farmers over land contracts invalidated in 2014 by law, Hungary’s Cabinet Chief János Lázár said yesterday. His comment came hours after the EC announced that it would refer Hungary to the Court of Justice over the measure.

Speaking at his regular weekly press conference, Lázár said Hungaryʼs stand on the matter is “defendable”, but the country is prepared to compensate the affected farmers. Foreign citizens in Hungary have “no opportunity” to acquire farmlands, Lázár said according to Hungarian news agency MTI.

The EC said legislation published in late 2013 terminated certain usufruct contracts, or “pocket contracts” in Hungarian, that confer rights to use a property and profit from it. The contracts were terminated on May 1, 2014, although earlier it was announced that holders of the contracts would enjoy a transitional period of 20 years. Lázár said yesterday that the contracts were “fictitious” and used to “gain ownership of Hungarian land through manipulation of usufruct”, according to MTI.

After launching an infringement procedure against Hungary at the end of May, the European Commission announced yesterday that it had referred Hungary to the Court of Justice over its farmland law, claiming it does not comply with EU rules on the acquisition of agricultural land.

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