It appears that Brussels is intent on ratcheting up tensions with Hungary and is uninterested in finding a solution to differences between the European Commission and the country, a justice ministry official said in an interview published by news site Origo on Saturday.
Pál Völner, parliamentary state secretary of the Justice Ministry, said the government will send its response to the commission regarding the infringement procedures launched because of Hungary’s laws on NGOs financed from abroad and on foreign universities. The government objects to the requirement that it respond in the space of a month when in the past the normal practice was to reply within two months, he said.
Standpoints between the institution and Hungary are far apart, and, by shortening the timeframe, the commission wants to bring the matters before the court, he added.
Völner insisted that in respect of NGOs financed abroad, the commission had been unable to produce a convincing counterargument, while the Venice Commission had qualified the government’s measures as “completely legitimate”.
The state secretary complained that Hans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the commission, had already formed an opinion about the case before the translation of the Hungarian regulations had been made available. And whereas previously he had mentioned the matter of “the Soros university” (CEU) as a breach of the higher-education law, he now objects to related government measures on the ground that they violate the free movement of services, he added.
Völner said matters had been rectified, since the EU had admitted that higher-education regulations are a national competence, and this is what the Venice Commission established in its report.
He noted that attempts had been made in the European Parliament to tighten up rules governing the transparency of NGOs but they were withdrawn because of the disputes surrounding the Hungarian regulations.
Meanwhile, on the subject of Hungary’s lawsuit challenging the legality of the mandatory resettlement of migrants according to a quota system, Völner said a decision was expected in September. The government’s position is that the programme breaks EU law. If in the end the court rules that the decision of the majority of EU interior ministers is legally sound, then the infringement procedure will continue with an unpredictable outcome, he said.