Lex CEU: On the Commission’s Refusal to Disclose its Letter of Formal Notice in the Name of Mutual Trust

This post will offer a brief account of my unsuccessful attempts to gain access to the Commission’s letter of formal notice addressed to Hungary on 26 April 2017, that is, the letter adopted by the Commission in response to the adoption by the Hungarian authorities of what has become known as the Lex CEU (a useful timeline of events is available here).

Before offering a critical assessment of the Commission’s reasoning (a copy of the Commission’s decision regarding my confirmatory application for access to documents is available here), a brief account of the relevant context will be offered. This post will end with some general remarks on the EU’s repeated failed attempts to prevent illiberal not to say authoritarian regimes from consolidating within the EU.

Context

Speaking before the European Parliament on 26 April to discuss the situation in Hungary, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced the launch of an infringement action regarding the Lex CEU:

The recently adopted Hungarian Higher Education Law is perceived by many as an attempt to close down the Central European University, which I think is a pearl in the crown of post-divided, free and whole Europe. The Commission’s analysis of the law confirmed our concerns with regard to its compatibility with internal market freedoms and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The College has therefore decided today to launch infringement proceedings against Hungary, by sending a letter of formal notice, and we await a reaction from the Hungarian authorities within a month ...

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