EU Launches Probe in Hungarian Education Law - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

EU Launches Probe in Hungarian Education Law

Email


by Raf Casert and Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press


BRUSSELS — The European Union executive on Wednesday openly questioned Hungary’s commitment to the bloc’s fundamental values and launched an investigation of a Hungarian law which is widely seen in Europe as targeting the Central European University, founded by billionaire George Soros.

EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said that the investigation would be completed “as soon as possible” and that the commission would consider what steps to take next by the end of April, the same weekend the EU leaders will be holding a summit in Brussels.

He said the probe will look into whether the new law conflicts with EU rules and could apply to other European universities. It would also examine whether it is compatible with EU principles on the free movement of services and respects the bloc’s rules governing the admission of researchers from outside Europe.

The initiative showed the increasing frustration in the EU with the seven-year rule of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has increasingly pursued policies that go in the face of the EU ideals of close cooperation.

“Where do you want to be in this European Union?” asked Timmermans, confounded by Orban’s signature at a EU summit two weeks ago to work for a united EU while following it up with a new National Consultation that has the motto “Let’s Stop Brussels.”

“What the heck is going on?” Timmermans asked.

Orban has long planned to transform Hungary into an “illiberal state” where majority rule trumps that of minority rights and national rules trump adherence to EU standards in some areas. The plight of the Central European University has come to crystalize the debate.

  District Could Pay Millions for Dual Enrollment Classes

Orban views the New York-based Soros as a political antithesis pushing globalism contrary to Hungary’s cherished local values. The Hugarian leader also opposes Soros’ support for NGOs such as Transparency International which Orban views as trying to illegitimately influence his government and Hungary’s politics.

“Central European University has been a pearl in the crown of Central Europe in forming a new generation of European leaders that see East and West as geographical denominations, not moral or political denominations,” said Timmermans.

The law sets new conditions for foreign universities in Hungary, some of which seem aimed specifically at CEU. It requires universities in Hungary also to have a campus in their home countries. While CEU is accredited in Hungary and in New York state, it does not have a U.S. campus.

Besides CEU and the proposed law on the foreign funding of NGOs, Timmermans also said there were “serious doubts” about the compatibility of Hungary’s recently tightened asylum law with EU norms. He also mentioned the discrimination of Roma children in education and the protection of pregnant working women as areas where Hungary had failed to respond to EU concerns.

While there was political need to discuss with Orban where he wanted to take the country, Timmermans said, “in the formal sense … there is not a systemic threat to the rule of law in Hungary.”

Gorondi wrote from Budapest. Lorne Cook contributed from Brussels.

RELATED ARTICLES >>
New Questions in NSSE Survey Spark Important Conversations A topical module around inclusiveness and engagement with cultural diversity debuted in this year’s NSSE survey, and the results prompted discussions around teaching practices. Every year since 2000, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSS...
Professor Apologizes for Fiery Response to Muslim Student CINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati music teacher has apologized for his fiery online responses to a Muslim student who was critical of Donald Trump’s presidency and talked about celebrating freedom and diversity. College-Conservatory of Music...
Colleges Wrestle with Issue of Using Students’ Fees for Controversial Speakers Katherine Kerwin didn’t like to see a portion of the student fees she pays being spent to bring conservative speaker Ben Shapiro to the University of Wisconsin. Kerwin didn’t agree with Shapiro’s criticism of what he said were attempts to chill fr...
Pennsylvania Education Leader Going Extra Mile for Diversity  Long bike rides are an annual tradition for Dr. John Sygielski, who spent several weeks biking from New Orleans to Nashville this summer, traveling along the Natchez Trace Parkway and passing through Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Along the w...
Semantic Tags: