On 2 July 2019, the Hungarian Parliament passed a law giving the government more control over scientific research bodies. The bill, if ratified by the country’s president, will place the 15 research bodies in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in a newly established state research network under the control of a government committee, whose chair will be appointed by the prime minister.
This is the latest infringement on academic freedom and autonomy in Hungary, as well as a new step to expand the government’s control of research. EUA condemns this action and strongly supports the statement by its partner All European Academies (ALLEA). In April, EUA, ALLEA and Science Europe issued a joint statement on the urgent need to back commitments to academic freedom and university autonomy with solid actions.
This topic is especially relevant as Hungary’s recent moves came despite widespread protests and as attacks on academic freedom are ongoing and repeated. In 2018, the European Parliament triggered a disciplinary procedure to determine if democratic values, including academic freedom, have been undermined in Hungary. In the same year, the government banned the teaching of gender studies and forced the Central European University to relocate its activities from Budapest to Vienna.
EUA would like to stress that these events are highly damaging to the country’s reputation and have worrying implications for both Hungary and Europe as a whole. EUA calls on the Hungarian government to be mindful of this and of the crucial importance of freedom from political intervention and pressure in the field of academia.
EUA will continue to monitor the situation and support its members and partners.