EC to launch infringement procedure over Hungary's Sovereignty Protection Act

Hungary has two months to reply to the letter of formal notice. Should it not address the issues listed in the letter, the EC may step up the procedure by sending a reasoned opinion.

The European Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary, launching an infringement procedure over the country’s Sovereignty Protection Act. 

The EC said the law adopted on Dec 12 and in force since Dec 22, 2023, breached EU law. The statement noted that the law established the Sovereignty Protection Office, “tasked with investigating specific activities carried out in the interest of another State or a foreign body, organisation or natural person, if they are likely to violate or jeopardise the sovereignty of Hungary; and organisations whose activities using foreign funding may influence the outcome of elections or the will of voters.” Further, the law contains provisions and amendments to already existing legislation “that prohibit candidates, political parties and associations participating in elections from using foreign funding to influence or attempt to influence the will of voters for the elections in question, and to punish under criminal law the use of foreign funding in the context of elections,” the EC said. After a “thorough assessment”, the EC said it found the law to be in violation of several EU laws, “among others the democratic values of the Union; the principle of democracy and the electoral rights of EU citizens; several fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, such as the right to respect for private and family life, the right to protection of personal data, the freedom of expression and information, the freedom of association, the electoral rights of EU citizens, the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, the privilege against self-incrimination and the legal professional privilege; the requirements of EU law relating to data protection and several rules applicable to the internal market.”