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Austria withdraws comments about Hungary farm land from EU meeting

Austria takes Hungarian land law issue off EU agenda

Austria has withdrawn its criticisms of Hungary's new land laws from an EU ministerial agenda, news that has been welcomed by Hungary's farm minister.

The two countries have been in a dispute over changes to Hungarian land law, which are due to go in into effect on 1 May when foreign farmers' rights of use to Hungarian farmland will cease.

The change in legislation has been described as "unacceptable" by the Austrian minister Andra Rupprechter as it affects Austrian farmers who have paid in advance to use the land and fully complied with the regulations.

The Hungarian Parliament also on Tuesday approved a law that will make it easier and more effective for Hungarian authorities to take action against invalid ownership of farmland in the country. Austrian farmers will also not be able to use old or new laws to legally claim ownership of lands in Hungary.

It is not clear exactly why Austria has removed the issue from the EU ministerial agenda, although Hungarian farm minister has described it as a step in the right direction and said that the EU ministers' council did not have the authority to discuss the matter.

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