Hungary is accused of discrimination in relation to its discount fuel policy

BUDAPEST (Hungary) -- Friday's spokesperson for the European Union executive arm stated that Hungary discriminates against citizens from other EU countries.

Hungary is accused of discrimination in relation to its discount fuel policy

BUDAPEST (Hungary) -- Friday's spokesperson for the European Union executive arm stated that Hungary discriminates against citizens from other EU countries. He offered discounted fuel to drivers of vehicles registered with Hungarian plates, while foreign-registered drivers must pay market prices.

Sonya Gospodinova, spokesperson for the European Commission, stated that she had received complaints from EU citizens about discriminatory fuel prices at Hungarian service stations.

Gospodinova suggested that Hungary's current policy might be in violation of EU regulatory frameworks.

She stated that "This is not the moment to unilaterally act at (the) national levels and to introduce discriminatory treatment of EU citizens."

In May, the Hungarian government stated that only vehicles registered in Hungary would be allowed to purchase gasoline or diesel at a discounted price of 480 forints ($1.30 per liter), the maximum price allowed by a government price cap in November 2021.

Foreign-registered vehicle drivers are required to pay the market price for fuel. This may be up to 60% more than it costs at the pump for cars with Hungarian plates.

The price cap, according to Hungary's government, was put in place to protect consumers against rising energy costs due to high inflation and ongoing war in Ukraine. According to the government, limiting fuel discounts for Hungarian cars was necessary in order to avoid fuel shortages and fuel tourism.

Thierry Breton, EU Internal Market Commissioner, wrote to Hungarian authorities asking them to suspend their policy until they could assess whether it was in compliance with the regulations of the 27-nation bloc.

Viktor Orban (Hungarian nationalist prime Minister) stated in a Friday radio interview, that EU rules against discrimination on the basis of nationality are suitable for peacetime, but that "an extraordinary circumstance requires extraordinary measures".

Orban stated, "And in such cases, it is also permitted, and I believe it is even mandatory, to depart from the general rules."

Gospodinova, a spokesperson for the Commission, stated that Hungary cannot use the war in Ukraine as a reason to discriminate against citizens of the European Union. This could also be done indirectly based on their nationality.

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