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Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi announcing constitutional amendments in response to EU objections | László Beliczay / MTI

Government backtracks on constitutional issues

D&T
June 7, 2013

This Friday, Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi announced that the government was ready to remove two provisions of the country’s Fundamental Law (constitution) in response to the objections of the European Commission concerning the amendment of the Fundamental Law.

The Hungarian Government handed over a letter to the European Commission, in which it responded to the three questions raised by the EU body concerning the possibility to impose extraordinary taxes, the transfer of court cases and the restrictions on political advertisements.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that the purpose of this exchange of administrative letters was to resolve the issues raised earlier by the European Commission with a view to closing the case before the Commission would initiate an infringement procedure.

János Martonyi announced that the government was "ready to annul, to remove the provision set forth in Paragraph 6 of the Article 37 of the Fundamental Law.” The Minister recalled that the provision stipulated that whenever the Hungarian State incurs a payment obligation deriving from a decision of the Constitutional Court, the Court of Justice of the European Union or any other international court and if resources for performing such obligation are insufficient, then the state shall finance this from a special contribution, a tax established for this purpose.

With respect to the transfer of court cases, the government will propose to Parliament that this provision be annulled in its entirety, meaning that Paragraph 4 of Article 27 of the Fundamental Law will be removed completely, he said, adding that the work load of Hungarian courts is extremely unbalanced and this provision on the transfer of cases intended to remedy the issue.

The third objection concerned the issue of political advertisement and the recent amendment to the Fundamental Law that introduced restrictions excluding commercial media from the electoral campaigns – except for the European Parliament elections. The European Commission asked Hungary to harmonize legislation and the Fundamental Law in this respect and the government decided to remove the European Parliament elections from the scope of this restriction but this provision of the Fundamental Law will prevail.

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