21 Hungarian universities were cut off from the Horizon Europe and Erasmus funding programmes due to the European Commission’s concerns about the transparency of handling EU research funds.
Over the course of the recent years, the Hungarian government reformed the funding scheme of higher education institutions of the country into a foundation scheme: the vast majority of institutions are now linked to public trust foundations. This restructuring sparked protests from academics and universities.
The foundations are stated to be independent, however their governance consists of people who also undertake jobs in the country’s government – which, according to the EU, could lead to conflicts of interests and the mishandling of EU funds. Hungary is currently being heavily scrutinised over its lack of financial transparency and corruption within the country, and in addition, concerns were raised by the European Commission as well as a number of non-governmental organisations with regards to the independence of higher education institutions.
While currently active projects will not be affected, the Commission confirmed that funds for projects launched after 5 December 2022 will be frozen. The Hungarian government denounced the Commission’s actions, however, expressed hopes that these issues can be solved promptly, as well as willingness to adjust the laws regarding the foundational scheme to a degree. However, if the issue is not resolved, the government also guaranteed the financing of Erasmus programmes until 2024, after numerous concerned universities made the same pledge.