The soonest the European Commission can rule in an infringement case against Hungary over the country’s telecommunications tax is the spring of 2014, local weekly learned on Wednesday. This means the cabinet no longer needs to be concerned about this risk to the 2013 budget and hence the excessive deficit procedure.

The soonest the European Court of Justice will tackle the special levy imposed on the telecom sector by the Hungarian government in October 2010 is the autumn of this year, which means a judgement cannot be expected before the spring of 2014. This way the issue no longer appears to be relevant for the EDP that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been striving to exit.

Even if the ECJ rules against Hungary, the state will have a payment obligation only next year, i.e. only the 2014 budget will be affected. According to preliminary estimates, a negative ruling could cost state coffers HUF 250 bn or 0.8% of GDP.

The paper also stressed that a ruling against Hungary does not automatically create a payment obligation for the state, because in most of such cases the ECJ does not oblige the state to pay for the damages caused.

There are two other similar cases (against France and Spain) on the ECJ’s desk before the Luxembourg-based court takes Hungary’s telecom tax on its agenda.

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