New decree makes public hearing without the public present possible in Hungary

April 28. 2023. – 12:40 PM



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A new government decree was published in the Hungarian Official Gazette on Thursday evening, allowing public hearings to be held without the personal appearance of the parties concerned in the future, according to 444.

Public hearings are by no means boring affairs: the January public hearing on the environmental licensing of the CATL battery factory in Debrecen, for example, ended in a scandal, with the crowd interrupting the presentation every minute with shouting and booing, and the chief magistrate being called a traitor.

Similar scenes are unlikely to occur in the future though, following the government's decree published on Thursday which states that public hearings can now be held without the participation of the public. So where can the public have their say on important regulations and administrative procedures? The decree describes in detail what a public hearing will look like from now on:

  • It will be sufficient for the competent authority (i.e. the body designated by law to hold a public hearing) to publish all the relevant information – specifically: documents, images, audio recordings and internet links – for the public concerned in the public hearing on its website. The public authority may also use other appropriate means to ensure the effectiveness of the public hearing, in particular local broadcasting services, information technology for interactive communication, notices or community platforms.
  • The publication shall indicate the deadline within which interested parties may submit comments and questions.
  • The proceeding authority shall then publish its communication relating to the comments received on its website. Where the specific nature of the comments so requires, the public authority shall inform the public by electronic means other than in writing.

Municipal authorities may also avoid public forums from now on, as the decree stipulates that the content, the order of preparation and adoption of plans for municipalities and providing information on certain specific legal entities for settlement planning may be communicated, expressed and discussed electronically.

Moreover, residential complexes need not worry either: at meetings of the tenants, the person affected may exercise their rights "by means of electronic communication" instead of in person, as provided for in the rules of organisation and operation.

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