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Budapest. Photo: Kon Karampelas

European Court of Justice cancels Hungarian higher education law

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared a Hungarian higher education law to be completely incompatible with EU law. The Luxembourg judges decided that the country's provisions violate "academic freedom and the right to education".

Published: October 8, 2020, 7:04 am

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    In addition, obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) were violated, the court said this week.

    The offending law stipulated that foreign universities in Hungary must also have a location in their home country. It also provided for a contractual agreement between the countries concerned as a prerequisite for the operation of universities in Hungary.

    The law was changed in 2017 with the aim of improving the quality of education. The Central European University (CEU), founded by US billionaire George Soros, was the only institution that no longer met the new requirements because the Hungarian government refused to grant it an operating license.

    As the reason for this, it cited a small student body and faked classes. At the end of 2018, the CEU decided to move from Budapest to Vienna . The EU Commission, in turn, initiated infringement proceedings against Hungary.

    In May, the country was already defeated before the ECJ in another case. The judges had ruled that fundamental parts of the Hungarian asylum system violated EU law.

    Last week, German MEP Katarina Barley (SPD) called for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to be “financially starved” in order to prevent him from opposing EU decisions.

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