Much Ado About Nothing? Legal and Political Schooling for the Hungarian Government On

von Gábor Halmai

On 26 April the European Parliament held a debate on Hungary. In his opening remarks First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said that the Commission shares the worries and concerns of many people within and outside the EU regarding recent developments in Hungary, and about the compatibility of certain actions of the Hungarian authorities with EU law and with the shared European values. This was the reason, Timmermans explained, that the College discussed the overall situation in Hungary first in its 12 April meeting, and again a couple of hours before the parliamentary debate. At this latter meeting the College decided to start an Article 258 infringement action on the recent amendment to the Hungarian Higher Education Law, which aims at closing down the Central European University in Budapest. According to the Commission’s statement the law is not compatible with the fundamental internal market freedoms, notably the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment. But the Commission also invoked the right of academic freedom, the right to education and the freedom to conduct a business as provided by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as the Union’s legal obligations under international trade law. The Commission sent a Letter of Formal Notice to the Hungarian Government on this issue giving one month to respond to these legal concerns. As Timmermans reported, the draft legislation on the governmental oversight of the so-called ’foreign’ non-government organisations, a law that very much bears resemblance to President Putin’s foreign agents act, is also on the Commission’s radar screen together with the new asylum law adopted at the end of March.

Apparently the Commission did not want to impose an infringement action regarding the asylum regulation, because there is already a pending procedure on the Hungarian asylum law ...

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