June 19th, 2012

EU court registers two infringement procedures against Hungary

Two infringement procedures the European Commission launched against Hungary concerning the retirement of judges and data protection laws were registered on Monday by the EU court in Luxembourg.

The commission signalled on April 25 its decision to turn to the European court, noting that the Hungarian government’s responses to its objections had fallen short of its expectations.

The European Union’s executive originally started three infringement procedures against Hungary. The one concerning the independence of the central bank has been since dropped on the expectation that the government would change the law in line with the expectations of the European Central Bank.

The Luxembourg court confirmed in a statement receipt and official registration of the commission’s infringement submission, but it did not indicate when the process would start. The EC in April said it would request an urgent procedure in the case of the retirement of judges.

The EC in April stated concrete legal concern over Hungary’s decision to reduce the retirement age of judges, prosecutors and notaries from 70 to 62 years. It said that the measure, if implemented, would lead to an early retirement of 236 judges in 2012 alone, which would mean pensioning off almost ten percent of all judges within just one year. It would also affect around 25 percent of public notaries, the EC said.

Regarding the data protection authority’s independence, the EC said Hungary had made progress, but ending the previous data protection commissioner’s term was seen as conflicting with EU laws. By creating a new National Agency for Data Protection Hungary prematurely ended the six-year term of the former data protection commissioner, who was appointed in September 2008 and whose term of office would have ended in September 2014 only, the EC said.

“The personal independence of a national data protection supervisor, which includes protection against removal from office during the term of office, is a key requirement of EU law,” the commission said earlier.

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  • true democracy

    Unelected european leaders dictating the their so called values on the freely elected hungarian government. Welcome to the Eussr!

    • Cnut

      Yes, we must band together to protect our traditional Hungarian values of creating a politically partisan judiciary, and creating a politically partisan privacy commissioner.

      Let’s fight and protest to protect our values! Hajra politically biased judges! Hajra politically biased privacy commissioners!

      These are our values! Let’s fight for them.

      • justasking

        @Cnut,

        ‘Unelected european leaders dictating the their so called values on the freely elected ‘

        Does ‘true’ not have a point?

        • Cnut

          If “their so called values” are a relatively independent judiciary relatively free of political influence, and a relatively independent privacy commissioner, then, no I don’t think he has a point.

          Those are our values, too. It’s a real pity that we need outsiders to point out the obvious, but that’s how incredible this government has been.

          • justasking

            @Cnut,

            ‘If ‘

            That being the operative word.

  • Daniel

    That is the point.
    Even if Orban had initiated a law reducing the retirement age for Supreme Court Judges to 29, the European Commission would still have no right to intervene, as Orban is an elected representative of the people, and accountable to them and them alone. But of course, it’s very possible that Hungary waived its sovereign rights the moment it entered the Union, in which case I believe Hungary should pull out before its too late.
    I love Europe and I believe in economic and cultural coopoeration, but not when the price is sovereignty.

    • Viktor Orban’s other ball

      “the European Commission would still have no right to intervene”
      Well, they are, so obviously the do, and that’s what HU signed up to.
      Hungary could pull out, but where would that leave the economy?

  • EU_lawyer

    The Commission has the right to intervene, since both the Hungarian judges and the privacy commissioner applies European law directly or indirectly. In the case of the commissioner, the premature termination was obviously politically motivated (see the new authority’s weird position on the case of “consultations” by Fidesz).
    The most important breach of rule of law, however, will remain without remedy: sacking András Baka, the former Chief Justice, before the term of office is outrageous, and must not have been happened in an EU country. However, in his case, there is no legal grounds for the Commission to intervene.

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