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Connecting universities with the economy remains a key issue, “regardless of the dirty moves the European Union is making regarding the Erasmus and Horizon Europe schemes”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Thursday. Addressing a conference organised by the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce (MKIK), Orbáns said that by suspending Erasmus and Horizon funding for universities run by foundations, the EU was hurting the competitiveness of Hungarian universities rather than that of the government. The prime minister said this competitiveness stemmed from the universities being “directly linked to the government’s decision-making through state secretaries and ministers”. “This is important for the universities, not the government…” the prime minister said. “This kind of direct link is the biggest competitive advantage we have compared with western institutions.” Orbán said the EU’s decision went against the competitiveness of the Hungarian economy and Hungarian universities and should not be accepted. The boards of trustees of universities managed by foundations had to be changed, but the advantage offered by Hungarian universities being an integral part of economic development must not be given up, he said. Orbán said that though he believed Hungary and the EU could come to an agreement, if talks were to fail, these education programmes would have to be financed by the state budget. If the EU does not grant universities the funds, they will receive research funding above the EU level so that they could establish international research relations, he added.