European Commission refers Hungary to top EU court | News | DW | 25.04.2012
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European Commission refers Hungary to top EU court

The European Commission is to refer Hungary to the EU's highest court in a dispute over government reforms. The Commission says the laws infringe on the independence of the judiciary and data protection agency.

The European Commission on Wednesday said it would refer Hungary to the European Union's highest court over reforms introduced by the conservative government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

"With this step we hope to convince Hungary to change the legislation," Olivier Bailly, a Commission spokesman, told reporters in Brussels.

Prior to the decision, the European Commission had repeatedly expressed concerns about two pieces of Hungarian legislation.

A law that reduced the required age of retirement age for judges from 70 to 62 has been criticized by opposition parties as a ploy to sideline those who do not share the government's political views.

The Commission also objects to a law that would allow the government to sack the head of Hungary's data-protection agency at any time and with immediate effect.

The European Court of Justice is to rule on whether Orban's government has violated EU laws.

A spokesman for the prime minister told the dpa news agency that if the court rules in the EU's favor, the government would change the legislation.

"The decisions of the court will be fully and promptly implemented by the government," Peter Szijjarto said.

Central bank dispute

A third bone of contention, the independence of Hungary's central bank, may be resolved with out legal action.

"We are ready to drop this case if the legislation is changed accordingly," Bailly said.

He was referring to a pledge that Orban had made Tuesday in which he said the bank reform would be "brought in line with European laws."

Bailly said this meant that financial aid talks with Budapest could be re-opened after the central bank dispute had put them on ice for the past five months.

pfd/acb (Reuters, dpa)