The European Commission will investigate whether amendments to higher education law in Hungary that Central European University says would force it out of the country conflict with European Union rules, the Associated Press reported. The announcement of the investigation came on the same day that Hungary's education minister, László Palkovics, floated a possible compromise and suggested that CEU could continue to offer American degrees through its Hungarian sister school. (CEU, though a single university, has two legal identities, one American and one Hungarian.)
The legislative threat to CEU's continued existence in Hungary has attracted widespread condemnation and concern, including from the U.S. government. CEU has American accreditation and was founded in 1991 by the financier and philanthropist George Soros.
"We never wanted to close down CEU," Palkovics reportedly told the Hungarian website HVG.hu, according to Reuters. "The question is whether CEU insists on having a license in Hungary or having courses in Hungary honored with a CEU degree … [CEU's own] license has little significance."
In a statement, CEU said it was aware of Palkovics’s comments in the press and called for direct negotiations with the Hungarian government for a long-term solution that would allow the university to stay open while protecting its academic freedom.
"The solution evoked by State Secretary Palkovics in the press does not appear to be legally and operationally coherent and certain,” the university said. “CEU has not been approached directly by Secretary Palkovics with this information. Exchanges in the press are no substitute for sustained direct contact on a confidential basis. We look to the Hungarian government to initiate negotiations with CEU so that we can resolve this and go back to work, with our academic freedom secured, without limits or duration."
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