Hungary says EU suspending university funds is ‘anti-Hungarian’
The European Commission suspending EU grants to Hungarian universities is anti-Hungarian, race-based revenge for Budapest’s stance on migration, LGBTQ+ communities and the rule of law, Gergely Gulyás, the cabinet minister of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s office, said Thursday.
In December, the European Commission suspended EU funding for the Erasmus and Horizon programmes for some Hungarian universities after the country failed to revisit its practice of nominating politicians close to the government to boards of 21 colleges run by so-called “public trust foundations”. This has affected thousands of students and teachers staying at foreign universities.
In February, politicians on the boards of colleges, including Justice Minister Judit Varga and Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, resigned from the foundation boards that run universities.
However, this did not go down well with Gulyás who called the Commission’s decision ‘anti-Hungarian, racially-based revenge’, according to EURACTIV’s partner Telex.
Asked whether he really viewed the Commission’s move as revenge based on race, the minister said it was anti-Hungarian, noting that his mention of race rather referred to belonging to a cultural nation.
“The European Commission may assess whether Hungary has fulfilled its commitments in April-May”, Regional Development Minister Tibor Navracsics told Inforádió on Thursday.
The issue is part of an ongoing dispute between Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government and Brussels over judicial independence, academic freedoms, the asylum system and the rights of the LGBT+ community.
At the centre of EU criticism is the Child Protection Law, which was adopted in June 2021. This is because it broadened the scope of action against pedophile offenders, and banned advertising that depicts homosexuality for underage children.
In December, the Commission said it would hold back on the €22 billion in EU cohesion funds destined for Hungary until its government meets its conditions.
Contacted by EURACTIV, the Commission is yet to comment on Gulyás’ remarks.
(Charles Szumski | Telex and EURACTIV.com)