“It is in your hands to make a difference.”
Hungary has long suffered from the absence of democratic traditions, a stable and broadly acknowledged constitutional culture and the rule of law. The judiciary has always been subservient to the government in power. Democracy, however, requires an independent judiciary that adheres to and applies the rule of law.
In the past irresponsible banks and policymakers have allowed consumers to take out loans and build up debt in foreign currencies. The policymakers denied the risk of exchange rate fluctuations, while the banks failed to perform adequate risk assessments. As a result, foreign-currency debts have become a major problem, with 20% of these loans classified as nonperforming at the end of 2013.
PITEE (Pénzügyi Ismeretterjesztő és Érdek-képviseleti Egyesület) offers individual consumers legal representation both in court cases and in summary proceedings as provided for in Directive 2009/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on injunctions for the protection of consumers’ interests. When possible, we lobby the government and civil service to improve regulation.
PITEE is the only Hungarian consumer protection organisation whose members have been educated in stable, democratic countries and have the legal and financial expertise to advise financial institutions in Germany and the UK. In the process we are bringing back to Hungary crucial, desperately needed knowledge that can help determine the future course of Hungary on the road to becoming a sound democracy.
We invest time and effort into explaining to consumers how the Hungarian legal system works and how it would work if it functioned under the rule of law. Although many of our legal actions do not yield the desired results, we are nevertheless achieving our goals through our blog, which informs consumers and helps them understand the failings of the legal system. We shine light on the lack of transparency that allows judges with unlimited power to neglect the rule of law and serve only the interests of the government in power. Our focus on transparency reveals the weaknesses of the system, generates discussion and leads to criticism of the judges, who must then respond to their critics and engage in open dialogue.
Our mission is to enforce consumer rights and bring about fundamental change in Hungarian legal culture by promoting and defending democracy, free competition, EU standards, transparency and the rule of law – all values not shared by the Hungarian government and oligarchy. It is a challenge we freely undertake; we are committed to making a difference.
Budapest, January 7, 2014
PITEE Consumer Protection Association
for Financial Services
Mátyás tér 17. III/9