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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

European Commission launches accelerated infringement proceedings against Hungary

Viviane Reding @ EU

The European Commission has today started legal action against Hungary over new legislation that came into force on 1 January 2012. The infringement proceedings concern the following three areas: the independence of the judiciary as regards mandatory early retirement of judges and prosecutors at the age of 62 instead of 70; the independence of the national data protection authority; the independence of the national central bank.

Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, said: "I have already raised serious legal concerns regarding potential violations of the independence of Hungary's judiciary and the Hungarian data protection authority when I first saw drafts of laws in early December. Now that the laws have been passed without taking into account the Commission's legal concerns, it is the Commission's responsibility as guardian of the Treaties to ensure that EU law is upheld. I expect the Hungarian authorities to address the Commission's legal concerns swiftly. Only actual changes to the legislation in question will be able to accommodate the Commission's legal concerns."

"There is nothing to be said if in a democracy, a government is able to base itself on a strong majority in its Parliament. This is democracy in action. However, a two-thirds majority, which allows the constitution to be changed, brings about special responsibilities.

It is a bit like competition law: a company’s dominant position in the market is not prohibited as such by EU competition rules. It can very well be the result of economic success of a company. However, as the Court of Justice has repeatedly said: a dominant position brings with it a special responsibility. It must not be abused. This is the same principle that we expect from the Hungarian government. It should make use of its two-thirds majority in a responsible manner, and always fully in line with EU law."