Extracts from the EC Midday press briefing by Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, Spokesperson of the EC, on Hungary
On 7 March 2012, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, EC Spokesperson, participated in a press conference, in Brussels. On this occasion, she announced that the European Commission has decided on further steps following Hungary’s reply to three letters of formal notice of 17 January 2012 and their legal analysis.
The promise to change Hungary's legislation affecting the independence of the Central Bank addresses some of the key concerns of the Commission. Now, Hungary needs to flesh out these commitments and provide evidence through new legislation. Hungary also needs to provide additional commitments and further clarifications. Depending on this additional evidence and information, the Commission will decide the next steps.
At the same time, the Commission still has concerns about measures affecting the judiciary and the independence of the country’s data protection supervisor. The Commission has thus decided to send Hungary two reasoned opinions – the second stage under EU infringement proceedings after which the matter may be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union – and two administrative letters. The reasoned opinions concern the independence of the data protection authority and measures regarding the retirement age of judges – which would lead to the anticipated retirement of 274 judges and public prosecutors. The two administrative letters are seeking further clarifications regarding the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the Central Bank.
On 1 January 2012, a new Constitution and a number of cardinal laws entered into force in Hungary. The European Commission immediately conducted a full legal analysis of the final versions of the new provisions and their compatibility with European Union Treaties and decided to launch three accelerated infringement procedures.
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