Hungary would even go to court to protect the new Land Act, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Minister of State for Public Administration Attila István Simon said in Budapest on Monday.

During his lecture entitled “Current Issues in Land Distribution” given at an event organised by the Hungarian Economic Association’s Agriculture and Food Industry Section, Mr. Simon recalled that two infringement procedures have been launched against Hungary with relation to the new Land Distribution Act.

The first such procedure was initiated by the Austrian government because of the cancellation of rights of usufruct, while the other relates to a review of the whole Act by the European Commission. In the Minister of State’s view, both issues are likely to be settled by the ruling of the European Court of Justice.

Speaking to Hungarian news agency MTI, Mr. Simon said that the Austrian government has an issue with just a single paragraph of the new legislation and that the case was likely to come to a close towards the end of next year following the Court’s decision, in view of the fact that Hungary has not succeeded in coming to an agreement with the Commission.

Within the framework of the other procedure, the European Commission examined the whole Act, as it has also done with the legislation of those states that joined the European Union together with Hungary (Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria). This is no accident, as the Hungarian legislation served as a model for these countries, he added.
The Commission’s greatest objection in this case concerns the restriction of land acquisition by natural persons and that the acquisition of farmland is now conditional on actual land use, furthermore that Hungary is not prepared to accept professional experience gained abroad.

Hungary has replied to these issues; Hungary submitted the 16-page reply to the Commission’s questions on 29 June, the Minister of State said. This case is also expected to go to court, he added.

In reply to a question, Mr. Simon also told the press that according to the experience of the past year, the Act, which is deliberately extremely strict within this field, has fulfilled expectations.

(Ministry of Agriculture)