European Commission launches legal proceedings against Hungary over national sovereignty law News
European Commission launches legal proceedings against Hungary over national sovereignty law

The European Commission on Wednesday launched an infringement procedure against Hungary regarding the country’s national sovereignty law passed last December, claiming the new legislation violates EU law. Hungary’s national assembly adopted its law on the protection of national sovereignty on December 12, 2023, and the law has been in force since December 22, 2023.

The new law creates an independent, autonomous state administrative body called the “Sovereignty Protection Office,” which has extensive power to investigate specific activities carried out in the interest of another state or a foreign body, organization or natural person. Meanwhile, the office can enforce national sovereignty by “evaluating the information and data obtained from the organizations subject to investigation, state and local government bodies, and other organizations or persons.”

The legal action comes amid tense relations between Budapest and Brussels. In July 2022, Hungary introduced a law that the commission regarded as discrimination against LGBTQ people and was referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to respond to concerns about the law adequately. A few months later, the European Commission froze €22 billion designated for Hungary under the EU Cohesion Fund as the country allegedly failed to keep in line with the rule of law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

In the Wednesday statement, the European Commission pointed out that the Hungarian legislation violates several provisions of primary and secondary EU law, as well as other significant democratic values and principles of the union. It also asserted that such investigations are not in line with the requirements of EU law relating to data protection and the right to protection of personal data under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The US government also criticized the new law. US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the law is “inconsistent with our shared values of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.”

According to the statement, Hungary has two months to reply to the letter of formal notice and will be sent a reasoned opinion as the next procedural step if it does not address issues raised by the commission.