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EP committee expresses serious concerns over CEU

The European Parliamentʼs Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) has expressed serious criticisms regarding the situation in Hungary in areas of its concern. A similar position was expressed last month by the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

The CULT opinion, approved with a vote of 13:4 at a meeting today, said it regrets that the European Commissionʼs attempts to settle the legal dispute with the Hungarian government over amendments to the Higher Education Law - which affect the operations of the Central European University (CEU) in particular - had not met with success. Hungary has the right to have its own education laws, but these must not run counter to internal market freedoms, it added, cited by national news agency MTI.

CULT acknowledged that Hungarian authorities had acted on some recommendations by the EP, but said it was a matter of concern that the issue of CEUʼs compliance with the amended legislation was dragging on. The committee urged the government to sign an agreement that would allow the institutionʼs continued operation, noting that CEU had now fulfilled the necessary requirements.

CULT said it believes that the situation in the field of higher education and Roma education, as well as the situation in the media and among NGOs in Hungary, represents a clear risk of a serious breach of the values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and warrants the launch of the Article 7 procedure.

Such a procedure could ultimately strip Hungary of its EU voting rights. However, this would require a unanimous vote by all other member states, which analysts say is unlikely.

The EPʼs LIBE committee had asked CULT to attach its opinion to a report it is preparing on Hungary.