Hungarian parliament looks set to ban Heineken red star

September 11, 2017

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Photo: Flickr/Evandro Felippe

As the European Commission will not hinder legislation banning the red star on Heineken and San Pellegrini labels, the legislation might be discussed in Hungary’s Parliament after September 15, reports hvg.hu.

The proposed legislation prohibits commercial use of authoritarian symbols in Hungary to protect human dignity. Now that there is no European legal obstacle to the proposed ban, Fidesz MP Kristóf Szatmáry gave the September 15 date as possible.

If the National Assembly passes a law banning the use of the red star, authoritarian symbols would have to be removed from products, advertisements and services. As well as Heineken and San Pellegrini, Converse and Redstar Jeans have a red star on products.

Pro-government print daily Magyar Idők cited European Commission Director-General Lowri Evans. In her resolution sent to Hungary in June, Evans acknowledged the connection between the red star and Hungarian history, and the pain caused by authoritarian systems. Therefore, the European Commission did not oppose the proposal. However, the EC stressed that such legislation cannot be discriminatory against any company or product.

The proposal is connected with Heineken’s previous legal disagreement with the Transylvanian craft beer Csíki Sör. The proposal was submitted to the National Assembly by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén and Minister Overseeing the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár in March, and Lázár has been adamant in his support of Csíki Sör ever since.

In spring even the ruling Fidesz faction opposed the proposal as unconstitutional. But the fact that a general election will be held next spring in which Hungarian passport holders living abroad can vote may see Fidesz have a change of heart.

The Hungarian government had to notify the European Commission about the proposal according to European regulations. They gave a green light in June. However, Heineken is produced by the Dutch brewing company Heineken International, and the Dutch government decided to form an opinion. As a consequence, the Hungarian Assembly couldn’t vote on the legislation for three months.

The three months end in September.