A recent opinion issued by the advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on amendments to Hungary’s higher education law “reflects exclusively” the arguments of civil groups funded by US financier George Soros, the justice ministry said. On Thursday, Juliane Kokott, the advocate general of the CJEU, said in a non-binding opinion that the amendments that affect how foreign universities such as the Central European University operate in the country were in violation of EU law. In a statement, the ministry said the advocate general’s opinion was “yet another example” of the EU’s use of double standards regarding Hungary, arguing that several member states regulated the operations of their higher education institutions with laws similar to Hungary’s.
It said the government believed the regulation of higher education must strictly be a national competency. “Higher education institutions awarding Hungarian degrees can be freely established in Hungary,” the ministry said. “Other countries’ degrees may be issued by universities in Hungary that carry out actual certified educational activities in their home countries.” The ministry said there was nothing in the Hungarian regulations that was impossible to fulfil, arguing that “other universities have complied with these conditions without any problem”. Hungary’s parliament passed the amendments in the spring of 2017. They obliged foreign universities to carry out educational activities in their home countries and made their operations dependent on a bilateral agreement between the Hungarian government and the country in which the universities were based. The European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Hungary over the amendments shortly after they were approved.