Hungarian legislation on the foreign funding of non-governmental organisations breaches European Union law, the bloc’s top court has found.
The ruling by the European Court of Justice on Thursday is a new blow to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban whose conservative government passed the law in 2017.
The disputed legislation states that NGOs receiving donations from abroad above a certain limit must register with Hungarian authorities and disclose the names of donors. The information is published online.
In late 2017, the European Commission referred Hungary to the Luxembourg-based ECJ over the law.
“Hungary’s restrictions on the funding of civil organisations by persons established outside that member state do not comply with the Union law,” the court said in a statement on Thursday.
The law has introduced “discriminatory and unjustified restrictions” on the organisations affected, as well as their backers, the ECJ said.
It is in breach of the EU-enshrined right to the free movement of capital, as well as fundamental EU rights respecting private and family life, the protection of personal data and freedom of association, the judges argued.
Critics of the law argue that Hungary’s legislation is tailored against US billionaire George Soros, a Hungarian-born businessman whose philanthropic work supports democracy and human rights around the world.
The issue is one of several that has pitted Brussels against Orban’s conservative government. Other sore points include Budapest’s hostile stance on migration and broader rule-of-law concerns.