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European Commission - Press release

Internal Market: Nationality requirement for notaries: Commission takes HUNGARY to Court to ensure non-discrimination

Brussels, 29 April 2015

The European Commission has decided to take Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union because the country only allows Hungarian nationals to take up and practice the profession of notary in Hungary, thus excluding nationals from other Member States.

In the Commission’s view, this nationality requirement runs contrary to rules on freedom of establishment and cannot be justified under Article 51 TFEU, which concerns activities linked to official authority.

Indeed, in a number of cases brought by the Commission to the European Court of Justice[1], the Court ruled on 24 May 2011 that notaries in Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Austria and the Netherlands do not exercise official authority. The Court ruled therefore that the nationality requirement these countries imposed on accessing the notarial profession was not in compliance with EU law. According to these judgments there must be a direct and specific connection of the activity of a notary to the exercise of official authority. This requirement has not been fulfilled by the notarial profession in these 7 countries.

The Commission considers that the activities exercised by Hungarian notaries do not present any significant differences from those assessed by the Court of Justice in the cases mentioned above. As Hungary has maintained its position, the Commission has decided to refer the matter to the Court.

A similar case is currently pending in the Court of Justice of the European Union (see IP/14/48).

Background

According to case law of the Court of Justice a direct and specific connection of an activity to the exercise of official authority is established if the activity is not just auxiliary or preparatory to its exercise and contains discretionary decision-making powers in contentious cases, powers of constraint or powers of coercion. An activity lacks a direct and specific connection to the exercise of official authority if the parties decided freely to accept the decision imposed on them. Although the scope of activities of Hungarian notaries is wide, none of the activities performed by Hungarian notaries seem to fit into this definition.

For more information:

Further information on professional qualifications can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/index_en.htm

The latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/index_en.htm

On the April infringement package decisions, see MEMO/15/4871

On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12

For information on infringement procedure:

http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/applying-eu-law/infringements-proceedings/index_en.htm


[1] Cases C-47/08, C-50/08, C-51/08, C-53/08, C-54/08 and C-61/08

IP/15/4876

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