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Stop Orbán's new
SPO MUZZLE LAW 

Hungary has adopted a turbocharged foreign agents law, aimed at discrediting and harassing civil society, independent journalism, and opposition parties under the pretext of safeguarding Hungary's sovereignty from foreign interference. Among others, the law has created a Sovereign Protection Authority, headed by a propagandist for the ruling Fidesz party.

The SPO is lashing out at virtually everyone who threatens the country’s leadership grip on power. It's scrutinizing former opposition MEPs' voting behaviors, Orbán's main opposition challenger, and the country's leading anti-corruption NGOs.

 
The European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Hungary but stopped short of referring the issue to the EU's top court. Without this step, the office's actions cannot be suspended. This leaves the door open for further intimidation.

Help us stop this law - ask the Commission to act

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DOCUMENTS

RECLAIM factsheet explains the powers of the SPO and the most recent developments

RECLAIM legal opinion explains how it is incompatible with EU law

Help us make noise, RT RECLAIM Thread 

The SPO is investigating Transparency International Hungary and Atlatszo, the two main anti-corruption groups in the country.

RECLAIM, together with other NGOs, are urging the European Commission to take action:

What's
HAPPENING?

Timeline of SPO activities

12 December 2022

Concerns over rule of law and corruption lead the EU institutions to freeze EUR 6.3 billion in funds to Hungary

The Council made use, for the first time, of the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation with Hungary. The regulation allows the EU institutions to freeze funds when breaches of the rule of law in a Member State are so serious that they threaten the correct implementation of the EU budget. Funds were frozen under two other regimes (EUR 22 billion in cohesion funds and EUR 9.5 billion of the recovery and resilience facility) over similar concerns. 

Timeline of SPO activities

1 February 2024

The SPO begins operations, with Lánczi Tamás as its president

Tamás Lánczi - a former Orbán speechwriter - was elected president of the SPO, which begings to operate in February . When Mr. Lánczi was the editor-in-chief of Figyelő, the outlet published a list of names of NGO members, accusing them of being ‘Soros mercenaries’. A Hungarian court ruled it as unlawful and fear-inducing.

Timeline of SPO activities

17 March 2024

The president of the SPO suggests modifying the crime of treason to target NGOs working with EU institutions

The President of the SPO argued in an interview in television that: 


“[I]f someone is working to deprive Hungary of the subsidies it is entitled to, and is proud to do so, what does it amount to? [...] The legislators and the law enforcers have a responsibility to clarify what they consider to be treason". 

Timeline of SPO activities

2 May 2024

RECLAIM publishes its legal opinion on the SPO law, explaining how it breaches both primary and secondary EU legislation

Our analysis shows that the SPO law seriously violates EU law, specifically highlighting breaches in Articles 2 and 10 of the Treaty on European Union, the freedoms of the internal market, and the fundamental rights outlined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, in addition to violations of the General Data Protection, the Services Directive, and the Presumption of Innocence Directive.

Timeline of SPO activities

22 May 2024

The first SPO report is published, and targets journalists by their name

The Office pusblishes its first report, targeting journalists working for the New York Times, the CNN, Hungarian and international NGOs staff and a former NATO commander, among others. The SPO said their actions are "threatening the integrity of the election process" and that it is "justified to strengthen the protection of Hungary's sovereignty", whatever Orbán's government decides that to be.

Timeline of SPO activities

18 June 2024

The SPO initiates an investigation against anti-corruption entities: Transparency International Hungary and Atlatszo

The SPO targets Transparency International Hungary and Atlatszo - a Hungarian independent news outlet - in an effort to silence anticorruption activists and journalists. They are investigated for cooperating with the EU institutions on the fund freezing to Hungary due to serious rule of law and fundamental rights deficiencies

Timeline of SPO activities

23 July 2024

📆 Deadline for Hungary to justify or repeal the SPO law - the Commission can, since then, bring the country before the CJEU

July 23 is the last day for Hungary to provide an answer to the reasoned opinion sent by the European Commission as part of the pre-litigation procedure. If the Commission is not satisfied with the answer provided by Hungary, it can bring the country before the Court, and can (and should) request interim measures to suspend the law. 

Timeline of SPO activities

12 December 2023

The Sovereignty Protection Law is adopted

The Hungarian Parliament adopts Act LXXXVIII of 2023 on the protection of national sovereignty. You may find an official translation here, and an unofficial one made by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee with the aim of better reflecting the initial terminology, wording, and purpose of the Act, here.

Timeline of SPO activities

7 February 2024

The European Commission opens an infringement procedure against Hungary's Sovereignty Protection Law

The European Commission launches an infringement procedure against the Sovereignty Protection Law arguing that it violates the democratic values of the EU, several fundamental rights of the CFREU (privacy and data protection, freedoms of expression and association, right to a fair trial, privilege agains self-incrimination, among others) and internal market freedoms.

Timeline of SPO activities

19 April 2024

The SPO launches an investigation on the main opposition party ahead of the June 2024 EU and local elections

The SPO launches an investigation against Péter Magyar, the main figure in the opposition to Orbán’s government, right before the European and local elections in Hungary. Mr. Magyar accuses Fidesz of corruption and of transforming the state into a propaganda machine. 

Timeline of SPO activities

6 May 2024

The Hungarian Parliament requests the SPO investigates opposition MEPs activity and voting records

The Fidesz majority in the Hungarian parliament requests the SPO to investigate the activities of opposition MEPs. The request portrays the suspension of EU funds and other EU actions as attacks on Hungarians, and accuses those  MEPs of working against Hungary's interests and weakening its sovereignty.

Timeline of SPO activities

22 May 2024

RECLAIM and other NGOs request the Commission to safeguard EU election integrity - but the Commission delays the procedure

RECLAIM sent a letter to the Commission's President and Vice-President for Values and Transparency (Ms. von der Leyen and Ms. Jourová) warning about the risks posed by the SPO to the integrity of the European elections and its influence over the composition of the 2024-2029 Parliament. Instead of accelerating the procedure, the Commission gave Hungary two extra months to justify its draconian law.

Timeline of SPO activities

4 July 2024

The SPO publishes a report on the war in Ukraine, one day before Orbán meets Putin

The report tries to justify Orbán’s obstruction of EU policy towards Ukraine and suggests that local opposition politicians independent media are ‘foreign agents’ following the Western narrative imposed by, among others, Commission President von der Leyen, VP Věra Jourová, HRVP Josep Borrell and EUCO President Charles Michel.

Timeline of SPO activities

12 December 2024

Review of rule of law and anti-corruption milestones for Hungary: who will provide input if everyone is silenced?

12 December 2024 marks the 2 year period within which Hungary can still solve the rule of law problems that led to the decision to freeze EUR 6.3 billion - and avoid losing that money for good. However, with the SPO targetting civil society working with EU fund conditionality, will there be anyone to help the European Commission assess the situation in the country?

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