Tibor Navracsics and Johannes Hahn in Budapest
In a letter obtained by Mandiner, Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn has apologized to Tibor Navracsics, the minister responsible for the use of EU funds for Brussels’ decision to exclude Hungarian universities from a new program.
A number of Hungarian state and foundation universities, including Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest University of Technology, and ELTE, are involved in a new higher education conflict between the European Commission and the Hungarian government, Mandiner reported.
It emerged at the beginning of the year that for the time being, the suspension of EU funding means that Hungarian educational institutions that are run by or in the form of public interest trusts cannot receive fresh funding from the EU-funded Erasmus+ cooperation and educational exchange program and the Horizon Europe research and innovation framework program, the news site recalled.
In the latest case, the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) – which manages the European Commission’s programs to promote decarbonization and sustainable growth – has challenged the inclusion in the so-called LIFE Capacity Building project of Hungarian universities that were excluded from EU funding programs under the Council decision of December 15, 2022, which also suspended the funding.
Although the Hungarian side explained that these universities are only included in the project as a target group and do not benefit from the financial support and therefore do not have to assume any legal obligations, it finally gave in to Brussels’ demands and several of the institutions that originally were planned to be included were deleted from the list.
But then Minister of Regional Development Tibor Navracsics, who negotiated the EU funds, wrote to EU Education Commissioner Marija Gabriel, warning that
CINEA’s demand and actions were illegal and that the request made by the executive could in no way be derived from last year’s Council decision.
Mandiner has obtained a letter from Johannes Hahn, the Budget Commissioner. In it, he indicated that there had been a misunderstanding during the preparatory procedure regarding the expenditure item in the proposal that was categorized as “financial support to third parties.” According to him, CINEA wrongly considered that the universities concerned would be beneficiaries of EU financial support, in breach of last year’s decision. “CINEA apologizes for the misunderstanding and remains fully committed to continuing the excellent cooperation with the consortium to conclude the grant contract and to successfully implement the project,” Johannes Hahn wrote to Navracsics, adding that the universities wrongly removed could be reinstated in the project.
Featured photo via Facebook/Navracsics Tibor