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EU launches infringement procedure over NGO law

July 15th, 2017

As the European Commission starts a new infringement procedure against Hungary over the law on foreign-funded NGOS, a right-wing columnist accuses NGOs of having ‘anarchist leanings’. A liberal blogger thinks that the procedure jeopardizes the membership of Fidesz in the European People’s Party.

On Thursday, the European Commission sent a formal notice to the Hungarian government concerning the law on foreign-funded NGOs. According to the EC, the law violates basic freedoms including the right to the freedom of association and the right to privacy, and it introduces disproportionate restrictions on the free movement of capital. On the same day, the Commission went a step further in another infringement procedureon ‘Lex CEU’. In the meantime, four additional NGOs have refused to register as ‘foreign-funded’, in defiance of the law.

In Magyar Hírlap, Pál Dippold likens the NGOs that boycott the law to “anarchist partisan groups” and “mercenaries”. The pro-government columnist thinks that the NGO law serves its stated aim of transparency and does not curtail the rights of civic organizations in any way. Those NGOs that do not want to register their foreign funding want to rise above the law, Dippold maintains. These “foreign funded commandos” believe only in individual values and have no respect for “the state, laws, order – or the society of normal people,” Dippold concludes.

Index’s Eurologus blog contends that Fidesz is risking its membership in the European People’s Party by not yielding to EU criticism. The liberal blogger recalls that several MEPs belonging to the European People’s Party have expressed criticism of both the NGO law and Lex CEU. If the Hungarian government remains defiant and does not amend the criticized legislation, the European People’s Party may decide to revoke Fidesz membership, Eurologus speculates.

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