Politikis.si quoted Slovenian MEP Milan Zver, who took part in an event at the European Parliament to discuss the implications of the EU Council’s decision to exclude Hungarian students and universities from funding offered by Erasmus+ and Focus Europe.
This is because in mid-December 2022, the Council of the EU adopted a decision on measures to protect the Union budget against alleged breaches of the rule of law in Hungary, prohibiting new legal commitments through Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ with some Hungarian universities.
Erasmus+ is one of the EU’s most successful programs, and now, exactly one year before the European elections, the message to citizens that
182,000 Hungarian students and 18,000 teachers and scientists will be unjustifiably excluded from Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe
and other programs directly funded by the EU, on the basis of a political decision by the Commission, is a very bad one.
Hungarian rectors, scientists, and students wanted to express their views in a debate at yesterday’s event and to share them with the European Parliament and other European institutions. The rectors also pointed out that irreparable damage has been caused by the European Council’s decision and that the European Commission has not found any actual misuse of EU funds by higher education institutions in Hungary.
As the European Parliament’s permanent rapporteur on Erasmus+, I strongly oppose the decision to withdraw Erasmus+ support from Hungarian students and researchers,”
the MEP said in his opening remarks.
He said that both Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe promote cooperation and strengthen integration, which are pillars of Europe’s strength and influence. “The benefits of Erasmus+ go far beyond the curriculum. It allows young people to make meaningful connections and friendships with their European peers at a time when they are developing their worldview and planning their future,” the politician pointed out.
As the MEP underlines, Erasmus+ funding enables students to study in foreign universities. Over the last three decades, more than 10 million young people – equivalent to the entire population of Hungary – have benefited from Erasmus+ (and its predecessors), making it one of Europe’s most powerful instruments to support inclusion. In 2020, more than 22,000 Hungarians took part in Erasmus+ exchanges.
It is for these reasons that Milan Zver has already called on the European Commission to reverse its decision to stop funding Hungarian institutions and to reinstate all Hungarian students and researchers in EU programs.
“Withdrawing Erasmus+ support from Hungarian students and researchers is a punishment not only for Hungary, but for Europe as a whole,” said Mr. Zver, who also believes that it would be hard to imagine a more misguided and counterproductive decision. “Why should Hungarian students be prevented from participating in European programs that uphold European values such as democracy and the rule of law? What good will such an ‘expulsion’ of Hungarian students do for Europe? What good will it do for young people in the EU to be excluded from contact with their Hungarian peers and vice versa?” asks the MEP.
As he said in his address, young people are “our best hope for a better future.” “We should give them every opportunity to learn, grow, and connect, not cut them off from the many opportunities offered by Erasmus+,” he added.
At the debate, rectors, students, and researchers from Hungarian universities thanked Zver for his strong support.
After today’s event, the politician also met in person with three Hungarian students who said that their peers were both sad and angry about the European Council’s decision, and that they had been deprived of the opportunity to continue their academic studies in the EU. The Erasmus+ program motivated students and helped them to continue their professional and personal development, but now this opportunity has suddenly been taken away from them.
Via Politikis.si Featured photo: Facebook/Milan Zver