European Commission sues Hungary for export ban on building materials

Photo: MTI/EPA/Julien Warnand
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

The European Commission is taking Hungary to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over a notification scheme introduced by the Hungarian authorities that allows them to block the export of building materials.

The EU executive claims the scheme is inconsistent with the bloc’s free movement of goods principle and therefore breaches EU law.

The decision comes after the Hungarian government implemented measures to stop the alarming rise in the prices of construction materials in July 2021 by imposing an export ban and an extra-profit tax, but the ECJ said the ban was not justified.

“Hungary does not demonstrate in a satisfactory manner that the objective of the measure corresponds to a legitimate objective. In addition, there seems to be no actual risk to the security of supply of the products concerned in Hungary. Furthermore, the Hungarian measures do not provide objective and predefined criteria for the decision of whether exports could be blocked,” a Commission statement read following its decision to refer the matter to the European court.

“Therefore, the Hungarian authorities can freely determine when there is a risk to the security of supply in the construction industry, making the decision potentially arbitrary. The measures therefore cannot be considered as justified to attain the intended public interest,” the statement added.

According to the ECJ, the Hungarian measures on construction materials affect not only intra-EU trade but also trade with third countries, which it claims are in breach of several articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

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