Report: EC against land law; Fazekas unconcerned

EU

In the ongoing bitter dispute between Hungarian Rural Development Minister Sándor Fazekas and his Austrian counterpart Andrä Rupprechter, the former has again emphasized his righteousness regarding his country’s newly-implemented farmland act set to deprive some 200 Austrian farmers of plots.

Despite reportage by Austria-based news outlet Kurier.at yesterday that Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, had dispatched a communiqué stating that the European Commission finds the Hungarian act in violation of EU regulations, Fazekas boldly stated to national news service MTI today that the law would nevertheless “stand up to the scrutiny of the European Commission.”

Fazekas went on to push a little Fidesz party rhetoric, reiterating that the new farmland act “takes into account the interest of Hungarian farmers, not speculators.”

Rupprechter had filed a complaint with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos regarding the matter last month; central to the dispute regards so-called “pocket contracts” on Hungarian farmland bordering Austria. Fazekas has described said contracts, created during previous administrations, as “used to circumvent Hungarian legal regulations and the moratorium on land purchases by foreigners.”

The extant land law was modified in February, removing much of the validity of the pocket contracts.

Rupprechter has long contended that the law “strips Austrian farmers of their rights to benefit from Hungarian farmland … [for] which they have paid in advance to recipients.”

About 200 Austrian farmers who have amassed a combined 200,000 hectares of land in Hungary in the period since 1994 could be affected. The combined acreage represents a proportion of some 14.67% of arable land in Austria and 4.55% in Hungary.

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