Prime minister to lessen control over universities after EU pressure

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government signalled readiness to compromise after the European Union shut most Hungarian universities out of the bloc’s flagship Erasmus scholarship programme and academic funding, writes Marton Kasnyik for Bloomberg News.

Hungary is prepared to loosen political control over universities overseen by so-called public trusts set by Orban in 2021, which critics say are aimed at exerting political control over the education system. Orban’s political allies, including most of his ministers, have filled top positions in the trusts, which involve controlling spending and potential lifelong terms. “In principle, we’re open to” crafting conflict-of-interest legislation that would force ministers to give up their posts in the trusts, Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas told reporters in Budapest on Thursday 12 January. At the same time, he called the EU pressure “unacceptable and intolerable”.

The EU is boosting pressure on Hungary for suspected violations of basic democratic norms under Orban since 2010, including widespread corruption and attacks on academic freedom. Last month, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, effectively froze almost €28 billion (US$30 billion) in funding for Hungary.
Full report on the BNN Bloomberg site