Government ready to back down in EU university funding row

The Hungarian government has signalled its willingness to make changes to the structure of the public trust foundations it set up recently to oversee 34 universities and cultural institutions, in line with European Union demands linked to rule of law concerns, writes Thomas Brent for Science|Business.

This follows a meeting on Wednesday 25 January between Tibor Navracsics, Hungary’s minister of regional development, and the EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn and research commissioner Mariya Gabriel, for what Navracsics’s office described as “compromise-seeking” talks. Hahn also met the Hungarian minister of justice, Judit Varga, on Tuesday.

The hastily organised discussions follow the EU Council’s December decision to freeze access to Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe funds for Hungarian institutions controlled by public trust foundations. Twenty-one of the country’s universities are managed by these foundations. After the talks on 25 January, Navracsics expressed openness to changing the rules which mean that politicians, including serving government ministers, can sit on the boards of these foundations, and to introducing a fixed term on how long any board member can serve, which is currently without limit.
Full report on the Science|Business site