Rule of Law in Hungary

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

yellow
The National Judicial Council faces difficulties in counter-balancing the powers of the President of the National Office for the Judiciary; the election of a new President of the National Office for the Judiciary may open the way for reinforced cooperation.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Perceived judicial independence is average among the general public and very low among companies, although the latest data show improvement.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The Kúria has declared unlawful an order for preliminary reference to the European Court of Justice.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Judges and lawyers are subject to negative narratives in the media.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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New special rules on judicial appointments to the Kúria have been introduced.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The ‘omnibus’ legislation introduced structural changes to the existing court system seeking to make administrative justice work faster and more predictably.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Judicial salaries have been increased since January 2020 and a system of bonuses is in place.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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While a number of aspects related to the organisation of the prosecution service have been addressed, some elements still raise concerns.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Quality

green
The digitalisation of the justice system is overall high.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Efficiency

yellow
The efficiency in civil and administrative cases is high.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Effective remedies in cases of excessively lengthy proceedings are still lacking.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

yellow
In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, the country scores 44/100 and ranks 19th in the EU and 70th globally.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The criminal anti-corruption legal framework is largely in place.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Anti-corruption competences are shared among different bodies.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Prevention

yellow
Corruption prevention policies in Hungary have focused on integrity in state administration and law-enforcement agencies.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Regulation of lobbying in Hungary is incomplete and there are no rules in place to effectively regulate ‘revolving doors’.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Hungary has specific legislation in place to protect whistle-blowers.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Party financing in Hungary remains a concern.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Repressive measures

red
While there is prosecution of high-level corruption in some cases, it remains very limited.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The verification of assets and interests declarations may be improved as regards systematic checks and independent oversight.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

yellow
Whilst the Media Authority has adequate resources, the independence and effectiveness of the Media Council is at risk.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The Editors-in-Chief’s Forum Hungary (Főszerkesztők Fóruma) is an industry NGO established in 2012.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Transparency of Media

red
The plurality of the media market is at high risk in Hungary.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Transparency of media ownership is not regulated in sector-specific legislation.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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State advertising allows the Government to exert indirect political influence over the media.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Journalists' Protection

red
Public access to information is hindered.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Independent media outlets face systemic obstruction and intimidation.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

yellow
The use of public consultations and impact assessments has diminished.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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On 11 March 2020, a ‘state of danger’ was declared by the Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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New rules on the constitutional complaint procedure were introduced by the ‘omnibus’ legislation in December 2019.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Civil Society

red
Civil society remains under pressure, especially when taking a critical stance towards the Government.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Independent Authorities

red
While the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights was accredited with ‘A’ status, its re-accreditation was deferred.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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