Brussels to restrict academic freedom?
Hungary's Regional Development Minister Tibor Navracsics has written to EU Commissioners Johannes Hahn and Mariya Gabriel about the Erasmus case, saying that excluding Hungary from the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes would harm the whole European community.
“The Commission’s actions violate Article 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by making programmes, research and training impossible, and by discriminating against institutions and academics. Its decision destroys decades of international professional cooperation and restricts the freedom of scientific life,” reads the letter sent by Minister Navracsics to EU Commissioners Johannes Hahn and Mariya Gabriel, Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet writes.
In the document obtained by the newspaper, the minister without portfolio, who is also in charge of the use of EU funds, wrote: “Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe make a major contribution to strengthening the European identity of participating students, teachers and researchers and to their personal European integration.”
Restricting the programmes will cause irreversible damage not only to the Hungarian people who are left out of the programme, but to the European community as a whole
the minister added. Mr Navracsics said he was shocked to see that Hungarian bodies involved in EU programmes have received unfair and unfounded letters. He stressed that the office making decisions about expulsion from the programs appears to interpret the council’s resolution way beyond its text. The council’s resolution does not prohibit applications for the two aforementioned programs, Mr Navracsics opined.
To prevent putting students and teachers at a disadvantage, I respectfully request the urgent clarification of the misunderstandings in order to prevent unfounded and unlawful decisions by EU institutions in the future, and the immediate amendment of the measures, which have already been adopted and entered into force.
the minister told the commissioners. Tibor Navracsics also listed the achievements which prove the success of the change in the operational model of the universities. The total number of scientific papers increased by 18 percent compared to 2020. A growing number of students have been admitted into tertiary education since 2020, even though the number of secondary school graduates has remained the same. The number of foreign students has increased by 65 per cent, or 40,000 people, compared to 2013, and Hungarian state support provided to universities rose to double the amount spent in 2020 in both 2022, and 2023.
Hungarian PM Viktor Orban also reacted to the case on Friday morning, during his regular radio interview. He said
Hungary’s national interest is to have smart students. We won’t give up this opportunity, the government will pay the scholarships at the expense of the Hungarian budget, if the disagreement cannot be resolved.