The latest proposed legislation on nongovernmental organizations follows the passage of a 2017 law that imposed burdensome reporting requirements on Hungarian human rights and civil society groups receiving funding from abroad. This law has been challenged by the European Commission before the European Court of Justice as a breach of EU treaty law on the free movement of capital, and a violation of the freedom guaranteed by the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Moving operations out of Budapest will have a significant impact on the more than 100 staff based there, most of whom are engaged in international grant making. Around 60 percent are Hungarian nationals, including several who have worked for the Open Society Foundations for more than a decade. The Foundations are taking appropriate steps regarding the safety and well-being of those affected by the office relocation.
The Open Society Foundations have a long legacy in Hungary, where Soros was born and where he began his philanthropy in Europe. He launched his first foundation in Hungary in 1984, using it to promote freedom of expression and thought during the last years of Communism, and then to support the transition to democracy. Within its first decade, Open Society funded milk for schoolchildren, brought equipment to hospitals, and helped the country’s poorest and most vulnerable. In 2010, Soros gave nearly one million euros to help Hungarians affected by the catastrophic “red sludge” industrial disaster.
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