05th April, 2017

Statement from concerned Europeans on the Central European University

We call on EU governments, leaders and the European Commission to strongly denounce the Hungarian government’s attack on academic freedom.

In the past 24 hours the Hungarian parliament has fast-tracked into law a bill designed to force the closure of the Central European University (CEU), one of the most prestigious academic institutions in Europe.
For CEU to continue operating in Hungary, the new law would require the creation of a CEU campus in New York, as well as a bilateral education treaty between Hungary and the US federal government, which has no power to sign education treaties.
Contrary to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s affectation of concern for ‘fairness’ in competition between universities, these impossible requirements were expressly designed to target an independent university. This is an attack on academic freedom within the European Union. If CEU has to close, it will jeopardise EU-funded research by disrupting the scholarly projects in which CEU participates.
In the past, EU foreign ministers have rightly criticised government intimidation of academics and students in Turkey, and Russian attempts to close down the European University in St Petersburg. Yet they have thus far stayed silent on Hungary’s latest attempt to repress independent voices, inviting charges of hypocrisy and double standards. We believe the European Union should demonstrate its commitment to liberal values within as well as outside its borders.
We call on EU governments, leaders and the European Commission to strongly denounce the Hungarian government’s attack on academic freedom, and urge Prime Minister Orban to abide by the fundamental principles and values in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union, and to rescind the laws that contradict them.

The following have signed in their individual capacities:

Yoeri Albrecht – Director, De Balie
Douglas Alexander – former UK Secretary of State for International Development
Gordon Bajnai – former Prime Minister of Hungary
Marek Belka – former Prime Minister of Poland
Eric Beinhocker – Executive Director, Institute for New Economic Thinking, University of Oxford
Erik Berglöf – Director, Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics
Emma Bonino – Co-chair of the Board of ECFR; former Foreign Minister of Italy
Stine Bosse – Chairman and Non-Executive Board Member; Adjunct Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer – former NATO Secretary General; former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands
Andrew Duff – Visiting Fellow, European Policy Centre
Lykke Friis – Prorector, University of Copenhagen; former Minister for Climate, Energy and Gender Equality
Timothy Garton Ash– Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford
George Gaskell – Emeritus Professor, LSE
Carlos Gaspar – Board Member, Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI)
Heather Grabbe – Executive Director, Open Society Policy Institute
Charles Grant – Director, Centre for European Reform
Ulrike Guerót – Professor, Donau University
Connie Hedegaard – former European Commissioner for Climate Action
Ayşe Kadıoğlu – Acting President, Sabanci University, Istanbul
Mary Kaldor – Professor, London School of Economics
Kaja Kallas – Member of the European Parliament
Sandra Kalniete – Member of the European Parliament
Roderich Kiesewetter – Member of the German Parliament
David Koranyi – Director, Energy Diplomacy Initiative, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council
Pascal Lamy – Honorary President, Notre Europe; former Director-General of the WTO; former EU Commissioner
Remzi Lani – Director, Albanian Media Institute
Mark Leonard – Co-founder and Director, European Council on Foreign Relations
Sonja Licht – President, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar – Member of European Parliament; former Justice Minister of Spain
Dominique Moïsi – Senior Advisor, IFRI
Michelle Muentefering Member of the German Parliament
Andrzej Olechowski – former Foreign Minister of Poland
Dick Oosting – former CEO, European Council on Foreign Relations
Andrés Ortega – Senior Research Fellow, Elcano Institute
Behlul Özkan – Assistant Professor, Marmara University
Laurence Parisot