European Court of Justice: Hungary cannot cancel EU-citizen’s rights of use for cultivation areas

23. Aug 2018 News

On January 1st 2013 a Hungarian law came into force, that only allows EU-citizens to get rights of use for cultivation areas, if they are a “close relative” to the owner. For the past 20 years, ownership could only be acquired by Hungarian citizens, so the owners are usually Hungarians.

Moreover, the new law orders, that all existing rights of use are cancelled. A concealed discrimination?

A number of people from Germany and Austria (including our firm) took action against the law, because it would take away their rights – without any compensation.

In spring, the European Court of Justice decided on the matter. It declared, that the law is a discrimination due to the citizenship of a usufructuary, because there is only a small chance, that he would meet the requirement of the close family relationship with a Hungarian citizen.
Furthermore, the European Court of Justice stated, that the alleged goal of the Hungarian government, to avoid speculation with farmland, cannot even be achieved with this law, because it does not regulate the cultivation of the land. The family relationship does not guarantee, that the tenant is actually working the land.

In any case, to take such a radical measure is not proportionate to the apparent goal of the law. The European Court of Justice decided, that there could have been taken less drastic measures for such a purpose.

Finally, it would also be inappropriate, to take away the usufrutuaries’ rights of use without granting them a reasonable compensation. The law is therefore all the more out of proportion.

Are you also a victim of the Hungarian legislation? We can help you.

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