The European Commission has launched legal action against Hungary for its recent enactment of laws on “protecting national sovereignty”.
The European Union executive said on Wednesday that it has sent a formal notice to Budapest informing it that the legislation violates the bloc’s democratic values and fundamental rights. Opponents of Prime Minster Viktor Orban’s authoritarian regime claim the new laws threaten to stifle his political rivals, as well as critical media and civil society.
The Commission has been at loggerheads with Orban for years over Hungary’s rule of law, and more recently over his efforts to block aid to Ukraine. It was widely expected to launch such an infringement procedure after the laws were passed by the Hungarian parliament, dominated by the ruling Fidesz party, in December.
The nationalist Orban insists that the legislation, which clamps down on the foreign funding of political candidates, as well as any body or individual with influence over public discourse, is vital to curb foreign influence.
Political candidates violating the rules on funding will face up to three years in prison.