The European Commission announced on December 7 that it will refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) over three areas: EU migrant quotas, the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs and higher education.
The EC said Hungary had failed to reply to the reasoned opinion by the one-month deadline, which was shorter than in previous infringement procedures, and it had not taken steps to amend or repeal the contested provisions in the related legislation.
The EC decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice over legislation on foreign-funded NGOs which “indirectly discriminates and disproportionately restricts donations from abroad to civil society organisations”.
“The Commission is also of the opinion that Hungary violates the right to freedom of association and the rights 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 on the free movement of capital,” it added.
The legislation, which stigmatises foreign-funded civil organisations, forces civil society groups to disclose funding of more than HUF7.2mn (€23,400), but they are also required to reveal the identity and registered address of individuals who provide funding equivalent of HUF500,000.
The European Commission also referred Hungary to the EU court over amendments to the country’s higher education act.
Parliament passed a bill in the spring that is widely perceived as specifically targeting the Central European University, founded by US-Hungarian financier and philanthropist George Soros, who also funds various liberal NGOs in Hungary. The European Union launched an infringement procedure in April.
It argued that the amended legislation violates the freedom to provide services, the freedom of establishment, the directive on services in the internal market, academic freedom rights, the right to education and the freedom to conduct business as provided by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
The European Commission on Thursday has entered the infringement procedure against Hungary over the migration quotas into a court phase. Two years ago the member states ministers decided to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers from the heavily burdened Greece and Italy. Hungary has adamantly rejected the idea of accepting any migrants.
In a related story, the Hungarian arliament’s national security committee met to discuss possible security risks posed by agencies associated with George Soros in Hungary.
After the session, Szilard Nemeth, deputy head of the committee, insisted that the civil groups in question “pose a national security risk in several ways".
The government has launched a massive campaign against the Hungarian-born billionaire. It has recently concluded the latest round of national consultation over what it has dubbed the Soros-plan, involving the sending out of millions of questionnaires, in which they drew up a list of perceived statements by Soros, backed up by a massive media and billboard campaign.
The Hungarian-born billionaire has issued a rebuttal of the claims on its website and gave a number of interviews to counter the government's slur campaign against him.