The positions of the Hungarian Government and the European Commission regarding the amendment of the higher education legislation last week have converged, State Secretary for Education László Palkovics informed the Hungarian news agency MTI on Tuesday in Brussels after he had talks with Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission. According to the State Secretary, the First Vice-President of the European Commission understood the arguments of the Hungarian Government.

Mr Palkovics said: during the course of his talks, he highlighted that, in contrast to press reports, the disputed legislative amendment does not in any way affect the autonomy or operation of universities operating in Hungary.

He stressed that it is not the intention of the Government to close down any university – either Közép-európai Egyetem, a university registered in Hungary which holds Hungarian accreditation, or the US-accredited Central European University which is registered in the United States, but is not engaged in educational activities there.

Mr Palkovics also drew Timmermans’ attention to the fact that neither the operation of Közép-európai Egyetem, nor that of the Central European University is in any danger even if the latter fails to meet the conditions laid down in the new legislation because they will be able to continue their activities, even if in a different arrangement, and not even their business model would necessarily be impaired.

He added: he believes that „there is a good chance” that the Central European University will be able to operate in Budapest in a form similar to the present one also in the future. „As far as the Government is concerned, it is ready to engage in talks and is open to discussing any solution. I believe that we shall find a solution”, he said.

In addition to Frans Timmermans, the State Secretary for Education at the Ministry of Human Capacities also met with Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education on Tuesday in Brussels.

The College of Commissioners will deal with „topical Hungarian issues” at its meeting to be held on Wednesday, including the legislation concerning the CEU, in order to determine whether it is in harmony with EU law.

(Ministry of Human Capacities/MTI)