Democracy & Justice

Hungary's Restrictive Legislation on Financing NGOs Does Not Comply With EU Law: European Court of Justice

The Court of Justice rules against Orban's 2017 law aimed at shutting Hungary's citizens out of their democracy by discrediting and defunding rights and democracy activists. The case teaches the EU 3 lessons to protect our democracies from authoritarians.

by Linda Ravo

1) The EU Commission should use every chance it gets to enforce rules that protect democracy, including by using rules that might seem unrelated to democracy (here data protection, internal market and Charter). Sadly, the Commission usually shies away from such opportunities.

2) Rights and democracy groups that sustain participatory democracy are under attack and they need support. The European Court of Justice ruling exposes real purpose of the Hungarian law: strangle public debate and criticism by destroying reputation and finances of independent organisations.

3) The Commission can't leave everything to the European Court of Justice. This law was one among many measures designed to cripple democracy. The ECJ judgments are like garden shears: capable of pruning ill-formed laws. Shears are no good against Orban's deliberate strategy of democratic rot.

The European Union needs tools and courage to address the bigger picture: regular monitoring and follow up through the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Pact; Rule of Law Conditionality and adequate funding for NGOs under the Rights & Values programme as suggested by the European Parliament.

Read the press release of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Media coverage

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Süddeutsche Zeitung Ungarisches NGO-Gesetz verstößt gegen EU-Recht

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