As European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, I am deeply concerned about the recent legislative changes to the Hungarian national higher education Act adopted yesterday, April 4th.
I am concerned that this development may be in direct opposition to the freedom of scientific research, and our common values of openness.
As a member of the European Union, Hungary has committed to uphold the common values of the EU, including the safeguarding of education. My concern is that this development may set an unwelcome precedent for the autonomy of academic institutions in Hungary.
I have received several calls and letters drawing my attention to serious concerns shared by EU students, professors and university staff, as well as ERC grantees of the Central European University (CEU), funded through European science and innovation programmes.
CEU is renowned as a centre of academic excellence and innovation for 25 years. It is deeply rooted in the academic life of Hungary where it has promoted academic excellence, student exchanges and the pursuit and sharing of knowledge. Thanks to the academic excellence and the quality of its faculty and students, it has played a major role in connecting the Hungarian academic community to the rest of the world. In fact CEU is a major factor in Hungary's regional leadership, having received a total of 12 of the highly competitive European Research Council (ERC) grants.
This excellent reputation is reflected in the wave of support for CEU received from noted academics, Nobel Laureates, student groups and citizens, from both Hungary and the rest of the world.
The European Commission will now proceed to a full and thorough analysis of this law and its respect of EU rules.
I urge the Hungarian authorities to refrain from any decision restricting scientific and academic freedom and damaging Hungary's academic reputation and relationship with EU partners.
I have received the full support of my colleague, First Vice President Frans Timmermans, for this statement.