Negotiations on EU funds between the government and Brussels may resume in the first half of October. According to Mandiner, Tibor Navracsics and János Bóka may once again sit down in tandem at the negotiating table with representatives of the European Commission.
At the moment, an exchange of letters is taking place between the government and Brussels on the remaining contentious issues regarding EU funds. It is known that Tibor Navracsics, the minister responsible for regional development and the use of EU funds, and János Bóka, the minister responsible for EU affairs, last traveled to Brussels in September to discuss the release of EU funds and Erasmus.
Following the meeting, Bóka said that the Hungarian government had put forward specific proposals on the structure and topics of the negotiations, so that they could be pursued more quickly than before. “We are participating in this process in a constructive manner and in a spirit of loyal cooperation because this is the message we want to send, and we expect similar feedback from the European institutions and the Member States,” he said in an interview on national news channel Hír TV.
As Mandiner has learned,
in the future, the two ministers will hold meetings with representatives of the European Commission, with whom the next face-to-face meeting could take place in the first half of October.
In a recent interview with the Economx, Navracsics said that all the agreements needed to access EU funds had already been concluded last December. “I am confident that all outstanding issues will be closed by the end of the year,” he stressed. Although there were rumors in the summer that if things did not speed up, students from Hungarian universities outsourced to foundations would probably not be able to apply for the 2024 EU scholarship, that is certainly not the case yet.
In 2021, the government adopted a proposal
to change the model of higher education institutions. This means that the majority of universities are no longer state-run, as before, but the rights of founders and maintainers are transferred to trusts set up specifically for this purpose. With this measure, the government aimed to ensure the efficiency of Hungarian universities and to expand academic freedom.
In this context, the debate currently focuses, among other things, on the exact length of the term of office of the members of the Board of Trustees and whether there should be a transition period between the former position of government official and the position of member of the Board of Trustees.
Balázs Ujvári, a spokesman at the European Commission, weeks ago had warned that the EU would only lift the measures on the basis of an adopted law, and that the legislation would give a month for its review. After that, the council could decide to lift the measures against Hungary. He stressed that all this must be done by September 1 in order for students to be able to take part in EU-funded courses abroad next semester.
By comparison, September 1 is long past and there is no news from Brussels that there is a problem with the next contracts. As Navracsics has repeatedly stressed,
the November deadline is still in force, meaning that an agreement must be reached by then to ensure that Hungarian students can participate smoothly in Erasmus scholarships.
Moreover, there is no question of a law being passed by parliament to lift the measures, he added. The practice is to wait for a normative text based on the agreements reached between the parties during the negotiations, and we understand that they are waiting in Brussels, he explained.
Navracsics and Bóka said of their latest meeting with Commissioner Johannes Hahn that it was held in a good atmosphere, giving rise to hopes that a breakthrough might be achieved in the coming period and that the outstanding issues on Erasmus could be resolved by the end of autumn.
Via Mandiner, Featured image: Facebook/Erasmus+