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European Commission - Press release

Hungary: Commission continues accelerated infringement procedure on independence of the data protection supervisor and measures affecting the judiciary and asks additional information on central bank's independence

Brussels, 7 March 2012 – The European Commission has today decided on further steps following Hungary’s reply to three letters of formal notice of 17 January (see IP/12/24) 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 today 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, prosecutors and public notaries – which would lead to the anticipated retirement of 236 judges. The two administrative letters are seeking further clarifications regarding the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the central bank (for details see MEMO/12/165).

Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner said: "Hungary has responded to some of the Commission’s legal concerns, but we still have serious questions regarding potential violations of EU laws as regards the anticipated compulsory retirement of 236 judges in Hungary and the independence of the Hungarian data protection authority. Now that the Commission has moved to the second stage of the infringement process, it is essential that the Hungarian authorities address the Commission's legal concerns swiftly. I would like to see real changes to the legislation in question to alleviate the Commission's legal concerns."

Vice-President Olli Rehn, responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, said: "I welcome that Hungary is ready to correct its central bank legislation. However, we need clear commitments and the evidence, for instance reflected in the draft law. On the basis of the reply to our letter, the Commission will decide on the continuation or not of the infringement case."

Due to the urgency of the matter (the various laws in question are already in force), the Commission has accelerated the deadline for Hungary to respond to the reasoned opinions and administrative letters to one month instead of the normal two-month period.

For more information

MEMO/12/165

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Homepage of Vice-President Olli Rehn, EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the euro:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/rehn/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Matthew Newman (+32 2 296 24 06)

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Amadeu Altafaj Tardio (+32 2 295 26 58)

Vandna Kalia (+32 2 299 58 24)


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