Hungary must change laws before receiving aid: EU

[JURIST] The European Union [official website] said Wednesday that Hungary must change two controversial laws [memo; press release] that went into effect with the country's new constitution on January 1 in order to comply with EU law before aid will be provided to the country. Hungary requested financial aid from the EU and the International Monetary Fund [official website] last year [AP report]. The EU stated that laws which lowered the mandatory retirement age of judges and affected the independence of the country's data protection authority were not in compliance with EU law. The law affecting the retirement age of judges, which is expected to lead to the retirement of 274 judges and public prosecutors, violates EU laws on equal treatment in employment which prohibit age discrimination. The EU stated that a law which prematurely terminated the country's previous data protection supervisory authority and gives the president too much power to dismiss the data protection supervisor was also not in compliance with EU law. The memo further stated that the EU was also concerned independence of the judiciary, because the new constitution gives the president the power to designate a court for a given case and also transfer judges without consent, and the independence of the national central bank, because the government has been issuing press releases criticizing the central bank's policy and the Governor of the national central bank's wage regime potentially allows the government to pressure and influence him. Hungary has until February 17 to respond to the EU's concerns.

Hungary's new constitution was approved [JURIST report] last April and went into effect on January 1. The measure was supported by and passed as a result of the ruling Hungarian Civic Party [official website, in Hungarian; JURIST news archive], which has controlled a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly since 2010. The constitution introduced several changes, including a cap on the country's debt, a reforming the Fiscal Council to give it the right to veto the budget and dissolve parliament for failure to pass an annual budget by the end of March, defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman and stating that the life of a fetus should be protected from conception. Critics of the constitution protested [JURIST report] and argue that the constitution is giving the government too much power over the media, economy and religion in violation of international human rights laws.

 

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