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CEU suspends programs for refugees, asylum seekers

The Central European University (CEU) has announced the immediate suspension, with effect August 24, of its education programs for registered refugees and asylum seekers, the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve), together with the administration of its EU-funded Marie Curie Research Grant on migration policy in Central and Southern Europe.

In a statement published on its website Tuesday, CEU said it has been forced to take this action in response to Hungarian legislation in respect of refugees and immigration which came into effect on August 24, including provision for a 25% duty to be levied on funds received from abroad by organizations deemed to be supporting what the government terms “illegal migration.”

The package of recent legislation - dubbed “Stop Soros,” in reference to an alleged plan for managing the migrant crisis which Hungaryʼs government has repeatedly attributed to Hungarian-born investor George Soros, the founder of CEU - was passed in June.

“CEU’s action follows advice from our tax advisors in respect of potential liability for a 25% levy on our immigration-related programs,” said the statement. “We are suspending these programs while we await clarification of our tax and legal situation.”

“CEU takes this opportunity to emphasize, once again, that the OLIve programs have provided educational training only for persons legally admitted to Hungary,” the statement continued. “We are proud of this work and of our research on refugee and migration issues in Europe and will seek all possible ways to continue this work in the future,” it added.

In July it was reported that the European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Hungary over the “Stop Soros” legislation. At the same time, the EC referred Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for non-compliance of its asylum legislation with EU law.

The Commission concluded that Hungary is “failing to fulfil its obligations under the EU Treaties, EU laws and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.”