On 13 June 2017, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new law on « Transparency of Organisations supported from abroad ». Behind these words stands a strong control of the government over civil society organisations, working especially on human rights and Rule of Law.
As explained by the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law in a briefing paper on 15 June 2017, the new law introduces a status of organisation supported from abroad, a term which will label any Hungary-based organisation receiving more than 7,2 million HUF (ca. 24 000 EUR) in a tax year. Beyond the administrative label which implies additional burden, such organisations will have to clearly show their status publicly, on their websites and any other communication material they produce. Failure to comply with the required administrative and publication requirements might result in the dissolution of dissident NGOs.
Together with a limited access to funding, the law is worrying in the sense that it hinders NGOs’ daily work and creates concerns over possible multiplying effects throughout the EU. Although it is the first law of this kind in the EU, there are already similar legislations in other countries, another source of concern for civic actors. They namely consider this Hungary’s law as a strong attempt to silence NGOs and to shut down any dissident voice against Orban and his illiberal democracy.
Following a call launched by the movement Civilizacio, a spontaneous platform of around 200 Hungarian associations and organisations, the European Civic Forum and Civil Society Europe called upon all active citizens, civic movements, volunteers who firmly defend the values of solidarity, democracy and equality, to demonstrate in front of their respective Hungarian embassies. The message was sent to Viktor Orban and wannabe leaders that NGOs and citizens will not disappear from the public sphere and will continue their work towards a more democratic European society, whatever their conditions are.