EU demands Hungary rewrite laws or face court | News | DW | 07.03.2012
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EU demands Hungary rewrite laws or face court

Brussels has threatened to sue Hungary unless it revises controversial new laws. The EU Commission believes the legislation infringes on the judiciary's independence and data protection principles - as well as EU law.

The European Commission said on Wednesday it would take Hungary's center-right government to the European Court of Justice if it did not change the legislation within one month.

"Hungary has responded to some of the Commission's legal concerns, but we still have serious questions regarding potential violations of EU law as regards the anticipated compulsory retirement of 274 judges and public prosecutors in Hungary and the independence of the Hungarian data protection authority," EU justice chief Viviane Reding said in a statement.

One of the laws in question changed the retirement age for judges from 70 to 62, a measure the political opposition says was meant to sideline certain officeholders and make space for others who are closer to the government.

A second law would allow the government to sack the head of the country's data protection agency overnight.

Brussels is also concerned about the independence of Hungary's central bank, partly due to frequent government statements criticizing the institution's actions. In addition, a drastic 70 percent cut in the salary of central bank president could be a measure intended to put pressure on the officeholder.

The EU executive initially launched legal action against the disputed laws in January.

Hungary has since made an effort to redress the outstanding issues. Premier Victor Orban's government said in a statement on Wednesday that 90 percent of them had been resolved, and that Budapest was sending new draft legislation to Brussels the same day.

In late February, the EU Commission suspended giving Hungary 495 million euros ($656 million) in development funds due to the country's repeated failure to bring its budget deficit in line with the bloc's requirements.

ncy/rc (dapd, AFP, dpa)