Hungarian Parliament Passes New Law Ensuring Transparency of Foreign-Funded NGOs

Publicated on: June 15, 2017

On Wednesday, June 14, Hungary’s Parliament passed a new law regulating the transparency of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that receive funding from abroad. Under the new law, organizations are required to state that they qualify as organizations funded from abroad on their official website and publications.

The new legal requirements on NGOs do not impose a disproportionate burden on civil society organizations; rather under the new legislation, aimed at ensuring increased transparency, organizations that receive funding from foreign sources are required to report and provide formal notification no more than 15 days following reception of payment. The new legislation in no way affects public funding of NGOs in Hungary.

Furthermore, unlike laws recently passed in Israel and Russia, Hungary’sAct on Transparency of Organisations Receiving Foreign Funding avoids labeling organizations pejoratively (e.g., as “foreign agents”).

The draft law was also submitted to the European Commission for Democracy through Law (commonly known as the Venice Commission) for an advisory legal opinion in April before voting occurred in the Hungarian Parliament.

The Venice Commission published its findings on June 3, stating that the NGO law “pursues the legitimate aim of ensuring transparency of civil society organizations,” adding that the bill “may also contribute to the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”

“[E]nsuring transparency of NGOs receiving funding from abroad in order to prevent them from being misused for foreign political goals,” the Venice Commission wrote.

Citing an earlier judicial opinion, the Commission continued that the NGO law “pursues a prima facie legitimate aim and can be considered to be ‘necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.’

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