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Hungarian report Hungarian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-05-18 10:15:27
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Hungary to ban use of foreign license plates

There's a little plague going on in Eastern Europe, one that causes a lot of trouble for the drivers in countries like Romania or Hungary. That little plague is simply called a tax, one that must be paid by all who are registering a car, new or old, for the first time in their respective countries. Now, at times, this tax is grotesque in nature and size. In Romania, for instance, the tax is called “pollution tax” and can reach EUR21, 000 for a car equipped with a Euro 3 1.4l engines. For those who don't know, that means a granny of a car, one that can be purchased anywhere in Europe, at any used car lot, for three-four times less than the value of the tax itself.

The absurdity of this all is not at all that... absurd. With these taxes, the governments of the respective countries are trying to renew the age of their car fleets, by discouraging the purchase of old, used and polluting cars. But, as said, we're talking about countries that are no where near the G8. That means that people there still want to buy old, used and polluting cars. And even if they buy a new one, they still don't want to pay a fortune to get it registered. So what's the solution? Luckily, both Romania and Hungary are part of the European Union, which means that their citizens can register their cars wherever they like. Or wherever it's cheaper.

The Romanians have made a habit of registering their cars in neighbouring Bulgaria, where the taxes are smaller. For the Hungarians, the preferred destination is Slovakia. For the Romanian government, the solution is still some months away. But Hungary seems to have made up its mind. So, sooner rather than later, people who are permanent residents in Hungary will no longer be allowed to own a car with a foreign license plate. Bummer.

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Field leaves Hungary citing fears of ‘hate groups’

A government official condemned last Thursday the actions of American businessman Richard Field, who worked with the Hungarian Red Cross (HRC) in choreographing the bussing out of 276 Roma women and children from the village of Gyöngyöspata on 22 April. The events of Good Friday – widely reported as a pre-emptive “evacuation” prompted by the activities of a far-right paramilitary group – attracted considerable domestic and international media attention and an angry response from the government, as well as nationalist politicians. Field told this newspaper last week that he has quit Hungary indefinitely over fears of attacks by far-right activists.

The governing party Fidesz is setting up an ad hoc parliamentary committee to investigate the issue of uniformed paramilitary groups – the proposal was debated in parliament last Tuesday. The planned probe places particular emphasis on establishing how the “lie” that an “evacuation” had taken place was propagated, and explicitly names Richard Field.

State Secretary Zoltán Balog, responsible for social inclusion, said he was “very critical” of the role the American businessman and activist played in the case. “I consider it reprehensible, that is my personal opinion at present,” Balog said. “When the investigation is closed we will see in whose interests it was to parade this small Good Friday event before the international public.” The state secretary added that Field “portrays himself” as wanting to help Hungary and should therefore stand and face the committee.

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EU advisers in Hungary for talks on new constitution criticized by human rights groups


European Union advisers are in Hungary for talks on a new constitution which has been criticized by human rights groups for outlawing gay marriage and limiting civil liberties. Members of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters, were meeting Tuesday with government, opposition and judiciary officials.

Commission secretary Thomas Markert said the group was gathering information about how the new law will affect, among other issues, the state budget and the status of millions of ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries

The new constitution which will take effect next January has been criticized by human rights groups.
It was solely approved by lawmakers from government parties led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.


      
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