A European news portal is reporting that over 30 higher education and cultural institutions in Hungary, including 21 universities, have been cut off from EU funding over ongoing concerns about rule of law breaches in the country.
More than 30 higher education and cultural institutions in Hungary, including 21 universities, have been cut off from Horizon Europe and Erasmus funding over ongoing concerns about rule of law breaches in the country. The suspension, under the EU’s conditionality regulation, was confirmed to Science|Business by the European Commission on Monday. It affects institutions operated as ‘public trust foundations’ or maintained by such foundations. Since 2021, the Hungarian government has brought 34 institutions under the control of these funds, whose governing bodies contain members closely linked to the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and his political party Fidesz, according to the human rights organisation the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. One example is the University of Miskolc in north east Hungary, which is under a trust whose chairwoman is Judit Varga, the country’s minister of justice. Around 80% of universities in Hungary are now linked to a public trust fund. The creation of these public trust foundations is part of a series of steps taken by Orbán over the last decade to control knowledge and information in the country. These have included the creation of an umbrella foundation in charge of over 500 media outlets and the transfer of many of the country’s major research institutes to a state linked network.
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A Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) report on the Global National Conservative alliance explained the role of the Hungarian educational facilityknown as the Mathias Corvinus Collegium, in the Orbán government’s struggle to control Hungarian higher education and to create a platform for rightwing figures.
The MATHIAS CORVINUS COLLEGIUM, a Hungarian educational facility, is a key part of the ORBÁN government’s struggle to control Hungarian higher education and is the center of National Conservative activity in the country. This facility, funded by a massive gift of stock from the ORBÁN government, has sponsored events and teaching positions for prominent US right-wing figures. Russia has already begun to employ National Conservative themes in its influence operations which will likely find a more receptive Western audience than in the past. Hungary is particularly fertile ground for Russian exploitation of National Conservatism given the existing close relationship between Russian and Hungarian elites and an extensive pre-existing Russian influence network.
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Athough not mentioned in the above cited article in the list of Universities affected by the EU decision, GIOR has no doubt that it played a role. GIOR reported in November on the opening of the MCC Brussels office.