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ECJ on ‘Lex CEU’: Hungarian Law on Higher Education Breaches EU Law

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.10.06.

Provisions in Hungary’s law on higher education, dubbed “lex CEU“, that affect how foreign universities operate in the country breach EU law, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday.

Hungary’s parliament amended the country’s law on higher education in 2017, obliging foreign universities that issue their own degrees in Hungary to carry out educational activities in their home countries, while also making their operations dependent on a bilateral agreement between the Hungarian government and the country in which the universities are based.

Later that year, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Hungary, saying the new regulations violated EU laws.

CEU in Hungary- A Story Cut Short
CEU in Hungary- A Story Cut Short

On Monday, Michael Ignatieff rector of the Central European University (CEU) declared that since no compromise has been reached with the Hungarian government, CEU is moving to Vienna. “Dark day for freedom,” says the rector, “political bluff,” says the government. Anyhow, Hungary lost an important part of a prestigious institution with a number of world-class professors. […]Continue reading

In its ruling, the court said the regulations unnecessarily curbed the institutes’ freedom of establishment and the free movement of services.

Justice Minister Varga: ECJ ruling applies double standards

Justice Minister Judit Varga said in reaction to the ruling that “applying double standards is unacceptable”, arguing that each university must observe effective regulations.

Referring to the Central European University (CEU) founded by financier George Soros, which moved the bulk of its teaching to Vienna after the law was enacted, she said: “It is not possible to pass legislation which would benefit the Soros university more than Hungarian universities.”

Varga added, however, that the Hungarian government would, as always, abide by the court’s ruling.

The minister also said that “a dozen” foreign universities in Hungary were governed by the contested legislation, adding that “most of them had no problem” meeting its stipulations.

Featured photo illustration by Imre Faludi/MTVA