A government official, responding to Sweden’s intervention in the European Court of Justice case concerning Hungarian law on civil organisations, has said that it was “well known” that the Swedish political leadership was “on the side of migrants”.
The European Commission has taken Hungary to the European court over its law on civil society organisations financed from abroad and Sweden has spoken up for the commission in the case. Pal Volner, parliamentary state secretary of the justice ministry, said the Hungarian government continued to insist that Hungary would not become a country “flooded” by migrants.
He insisted that “the forces of immigration” were determined to intervene in Hungary’s domestic affairs. It was well known, he added, that “foreign-funded migration organisations” had lobbied Sweden’s ambassador to Hungary.
Volner said the government always put the Hungarian people and their security first. Referring to US billionaire George Soros and his “network”, he said the Hungarian law on the transparency of foreign-financed organisations was well-founded and a sweeping majority of Hungarian people agreed, with 99 percent of respondents in a national consultation backing the government’s policy.
Volner noted that all European Union member states are entitled to have their views known at the European court. But when it comes to infringement proceedings initiated by the commission, member states do not generally interfere on the side of the commission, he added. The Swedish government’s intervention is surprising given its reputation as a “leader in transparency”, and the Hungarian law aims to ensure just that, he said.
Hungary’s government has maintained in court that the law does not restrict a foreigner’s right to financially support an NGO. Neither does it prevent an NGO from accepting foreign money for pursuing activities specified in its instruments of incorporation. Its aim is to ensure their transparency while making it clear to the general public that should an NGO receive support from abroad, this would not be at the expense of public security, Volner added.
The state secretary said the government rejected the commission’s argument that disclosure of financing from abroad would stigmatise an NGO. Such data is no different to other types contained in the court register, such as existence or otherwise of charitable status, he said. The commission, he added, had not provided any concrete evidence that the alleged stigmatisation would lead to a reluctance to subsidise an NGO and thereby hinder its activities.
Volner said transparency was about eliminating risk from sources of unknown origin that may have a negative bearing on Hungary’s political and social life. The commission does not contest this aim or its legitimacy, he said, adding that Brussels generally understood that public security considerations and the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing justified measures to increase the transparency of capital movements, even if the body disputed the specific Hungarian law in question.
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