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The European Commission has today officially responded to the deteriorating rule of law situation in Hungary, following the adoption of new legislation which would effectively shut down the Central European University, an institution founded by the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.
The Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, today refused to launch a rule of law procedure against the Hungarian Government for its new Higher Education Law, but instead committed to pursue a “serious dialogue” with the Government.
Responding to the statement of Vice - President Timmermans, ALDE Group First Vice - President Sophie in ’t Veld said:
"80,000 people took to the streets of Budapest last Sunday to protest against Orbán’s illiberal crackdown on academic freedom and to call for solidarity from the European Union- it is extremely disappointing that all the European Commission can do in return is shrug their shoulders. It is impressive that Mr Timmermans can give a press conference in response to one of the boldest assaults on European values we face without really saying anything. A condemnation would have been nice. ”
“It is the Commission's task to be the guardian of the Treaties, if it does not do that, who will? If countries can unilaterally decide whether to respect European values of liberal democracy, it is the end of the European project as we know it. It’s time the European Commission’s so-called political dialogue moves to a rule of law dialogue. "
Members of the ALDE Group last week submitted a written parliamentary question asking the European Commission to undertake the necessary measures to ensure that academic freedom, quality education and a pluralist society are safeguarded, as enshrined in the legal texts of the European Union. Read the parliamentary question here.