Viktor Orbán’s government introduced lex CEU in 2017, a piece of legislation that made it illegal for foreign colleges based in Hungary to operate if they did not also have a campus in their home country, reports The Pie News. The law used in Hungary to bar the Central European University from operating there has been termed a “disproportionate restriction” and an exercise in “arbitrary discrimination” that “cannot be justified” by advocate general Juliane Kokott of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
CEU is backed by billionaire George Soros – whose views on migrants and refugees in Europe have led to clashes with Orbán and his government – and formerly offers US-accredited degrees in Budapest without having a campus in the US. It also introduced requirements that those from countries outside the EEA had an international treaty with Hungary.
Since January 2019, the university has been unable to offer its US-accredited courses in Hungary and has instead opened a campus in Vienna, which will begin accepting students this autumn. It was the only university in the country impacted by the legislation. “The Advocate General’s opinion affirms, in every detail, the case that CEU has been making since lex CEU was passed in April 2017. We now await the final judgment of the Court itself, which is expected in the fall,” said CEU in a statement.
“We will continue to maintain a vigorous public presence, with an Institute of Advanced Study, an Open Society Archives, a Democracy Institute, our cognitive science labs and teaching in our Hungarian accredited programs.” “At the same time, CEU will never allow the government to force us to abandon our home in Budapest.
While the opinion of the AG is not legally binding, the final judgment expected later this year by the Court will be. If its decision is in line with that of the AG, the government will be required to repeal lex CEU and allow the university to once again operate domestically.
“The AG’s recommendation does not change the university’s plans. Until the government withdraws the legislation, we have no choice but to proceed with plans to transfer all US degree instruction to Vienna,” the university added.