European Commission takes first step in infringement proceeding against Hungary over Lex CEU

April 26, 2017

The European Commission has just announced that it is taking the first step toward launching an infringement proceeding against the Hungarian government over its modifications to the higher education law, better known as Lex CEU. According to the Commission, a letter is being sent to Hungarian authorities to notify them that Lex CEU may violate freedoms protected by the European Union. The Commission has also taken issue with Hungary’s anti-EU national consultation.

Lex CEU

“First, on the basis of an in-depth legal assessment of the Hungarian Higher Education Law of 4 April, the European Commission concluded that the law is not compatible with the fundamental internal market freedoms, notably the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment but also with 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 with the Union’s legal obligations under international trade law. The College therefore decided to take legal action and sent a Letter of Formal Notice to the Hungarian Government on the Hungarian Higher Education Law. The Hungarian authorities will now have one month to respond to the legal concerns of the Commission,” reads a statement released by the Commission.

At the Commission’s press conference, journalists were told First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans would go into detail regarding the Commission’s decision during the debate on “the situation in Hungary” scheduled for later this afternoon in the European Parliament.

Anti-EU national consultation

The tight-lipped Commission has also taken issue with Hungary’s “Let’s Stop Brussels!” national consultation. They are reviewing how to respond to the Hungarian government’s statements, which they say are misleading Hungarian citizens.

“The European Commission will publish today its response to the false claims in the Hungarian Government’s ‘Stop Brussels’ national consultation which was launched in April 2017. The Commission considers that the consultation is based on several factually incorrect or highly misleading claims and allegations and will therefore set the record straight in its response – based on hard facts – that will be made public at the start of First Vice-President Timmermans’ intervention at the European Parliament Plenary debate later today,” the Commission’s statement continued.