The main amendments to the act on the spatial plan (“területrendezési terv” in Hungarian) of Hungary and certain high priority regions (Spatial Planning Act) entered into force on 15 March 2019 aiming at the reform of spatial planning. The Spatial Planning Act rules and revises the national spatial plan, as well as the spatial plans of the agglomeration of Budapest and the Lake Balaton High Priority Holiday Zone which areas had been regulated in separate acts earlier.
On 13 February 2019 the European Parliament and Council agreed on how the EU’s copyright rules should be updated aiming to strengthen the position of the journalists and artists vis-á-vis the large online platforms. According to the agreement, the big online platforms should no longer be able to earn money by using journalists’ and artists’ content without paying them. Crucially, start-ups and smaller online platforms (under 10 million global turnover or not more than 5 million unique monthly visitors) will be subject to less strict obligations than well-known large companies like Facebook or YouTube.
In principle, in the course of the land registry procedure, the position of an entry of record in the land registry, and the order of such records is determined by the filing date of the applications or requests. Under the Hungarian Land Registry Act, the order of the entries may be modified on the basis of an authentic instrument signed by all parties, a private document countersigned by an attorney or bar association legal counsel, or on the basis of a private document where the signatures of the parties are attested by a notary public.
The Hungarian Government submitted a bill to the Hungarian Parliament in February 2019. The goal of the new legislation is to amend more than 80 acts in order to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to experts, these amendments could bring an easier and more uniform application of the data protection laws.
On 13 February 2019 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a ruling in a Hungarian case concerning the application of the provisions on VAT. According to the VAT Directive, as a general rule, VAT is be payable by the person carrying out the taxable supply of goods or services. However, in specific cases the Member States may deviate from this provision and provide that the person liable for payment of VAT is the taxable person to whom the supplies are made.
In order to create an integrated system for high volume public construction investments, the Hungarian Government has adopted a new legislation. From January 2019, high volume public construction investments reaching the estimated value of HUF 700 million must be executed by a state-owned company, i.e. the Investment Agency.
In early 2017 the Hungarian Parliament passed the Code of Administrative Litigation as a beginning of the reform of the central administration. As the final step, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a law on the Administrative Courts on 12 December 2018. The goal of the new legislation was to ’restore the prestige of the administrative courts’ which was abolished in 1949. Since then no separate administrative court system existed, it was integrated into the civil courts.
The amendments of the Act on the Transactions in Agricultural and Forestry Land (Land Act) entered into force on 11 January 2019. Based on the new rules, in the approval procedure of the sale and purchase agreement for agricultural lands, the regional entity of the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture as local land committee will prepare an opinion whether the sale and purchase agreement is in compliance with the aspects included in the Land Act (e.g. transparency of the relationship of tenures, preventing speculative land acquisition). The amendment determines the conditions that shall be considered in the course of the assessment of the compliance with these aspects, such as the purchase price of the land, the lands already owned by the purchaser, or how the sale and purchase of the land serves the acquisition of ownership of young farmers or new agricultural producers.
On 20 November 2018, the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (“EMPL”) adopted modernised rules for coordinating social security systems. The EMPL focused on facilitating labour mobility while safeguarding the workers’ social security rights in cross-border situations, by determining under which Member State’ s system a person is insured. The purpose of the new rules is to make it easier for EU citizens to work in another EU Member State and to have a fair access to social security benefits.
The Hungarian Act on the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (the “ESOP Act”) was amended by the Hungarian Parliament in November 2019. It is good news that the amendment does not affect the taxation of incomes from the ESOP organization, so it is still possible to get a private income through an ESOP under very favorable tax conditions. Accordingly, payments made to the employees within the ESOP are solely subject to a 15% personal income tax, which means 18.5% savings for the employees, while on the other hand employers can reduce their public burdens with 21%.
In December 2018 the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new legislation that significantly changes the Hungarian Labour Code. The proposer stated that the goal of this new legislation is ‘to remove administrative burdens from the employees, so if they want to earn more – with their consent – they can work more’.
An amendment to the act on industrial properties enters into force on 1 January 2019. Such amendment not only modifies the existing trademark procedures, but also creates a more efficient, fast and customer-friendly system. Due to this modification, the Hungarian trademark legislation will also be conform with the requirements of the applicable EU directive.
From January 2019 the VAT exemption threshold for individuals will be increased to HUF 12 million from the current limit of HUF 8 million. During the summer 2018 the Hungarian Parliament had already adopted the tax rules applicable in 2019, however, some adjustments had to be made in autumn to fully comply with the EU law.