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Hungary Files Amendments to Meet EU Aid-Talk Conditions

Hungary’s government filed further amendments to laws criticized by the European Commission that have blocked the start of talks on a European Union and International Monetary Fund loan.

The latest changes narrow the prime minister’s room to fire the independent data-protection commissioner, according to the amendment posted on Parliament’s website yesterday. It doesn’t address a second EU objection about the termination of the previous commissioner’s mandate before it expired.

The amendments aim to “strengthen the independence” of the data-protection agency “in line with the European Commission’s concerns,” according to the document.

Hungary is seeking to quell investor concern that it isn’t committed to an IMF deal after the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said March 7 that the government failed to meet preconditions for the start of talks four months after asking for aid as the forint dropped to a record and the country’s sovereign-credit rating was cut to junk.

The European Commission this week took a formal step toward seeking a court order to require Hungary to redraft laws on the judiciary and data-protection agency and asked for more information on planned changes to a new central bank law.

The amendment filed yesterday will eliminate the right of the prime minister to ask for the dismissal of the data-protection commissioner on the grounds of a failure to carry out the work for more than 90 days. It also allows the commissioner to contest a dismissal in court and prevents the president from agreeing to it if the court rules in the commissioner’s favor.

The government didn’t address the commission’s other concern regarding the firing of the previous data-protection commissioner before the end of his term, which the European Union executive said was “a violation of the personal independence of the data protection authority.”

The government on March 7 sent the European Central Bank planned amendments to a central bank law, which the EU and the ECB had said may undermine monetary policy independence. Hungary is awaiting the ECB’s opinion on those changes.

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