Judgment in Case C-78/18 Commission v Hungary (2/2020)

Name of the act/s*

Judgment in Case C-78/18 Commission v Hungary

Subject area

non-governmental organizations, freedom of association, transparency

Brief description of the contents of the act

The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice upheld the action for failure to fulfil obligations brought by the European Commission against that Member State. The Court held that, by imposing obligations of registration, declaration and publication on certain categories of civil society organisations directly or indirectly receiving support from abroad exceeding a certain threshold and providing for the possibility of applying penalties to organisations that do not comply with those obligations, Hungary had introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions with regard to both the organisations at issue and the persons granting them such support.

The Court held, in the first place, that the transactions covered by the Transparency Law fell within the scope of the concept of ‘movements of capital’ and that the law in question constitutes a restrictive measure of a discriminatory nature. In addition, the measures which the law lays down are such as to create a climate of distrust with regard to those associations and foundations. Consequently, the obligations of registration, declaration and publication and the penalties provided for under the Transparency Law, viewed together, constitute a restriction on the free movement of capital, prohibited under Article 63 TFEU.

In the second place, the Court examined whether the provisions of the Transparency Law complied with the Charter. The Court concluded that the right to freedom of association, the right to respect for private and family life and the right to the protection of personal data were violated because the provisions of the Transparency Law could not be justified by any of the objectives of general interest which Hungary relied upon.

Secondary sources/ doctrinal works (if any)

Virág Molnár: Civil Society in an Illiberal Democracy. Government-Friendly NGOs, “Foreign Agents,” and Uncivil Publics, in Balázs Trencsényi – János Mátyás Kovács (eds.) Brave New Hungary. Mapping the “System of National Cooperation” (Lexington Books, 2019)

*Act citation /year and number

Judgment in Case C-78/18 Commission v Hungary

Enacted by

Court of Justice of the European Union

Official link to the text of the act


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