CEU welcomes the unequivocal opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice in the matter of lex CEU. Advocate General Kokott has clearly declared that lex CEU violates European law. In her opinion, she declares that Lex CEU “cannot be justified”. It is an exercise of “arbitrary discrimination” and imposes a “disproportionate restriction” on academic freedom. It constitutes a “discriminatory and disproportionate” infringement of the freedom to found and operate educational establishments. The Orban government’s very requirement that CEU can only operate on the basis of an international treaty between Hungary and its state of origin, the Advocate General maintains, is “contrary to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.”
The Advocate General’s opinion affirms, in every detail, the case that CEU has been making since lex CEU was passed in April 2017. We now await the final judgment of the Court itself, which is expected in the fall. Should the Court accept the opinion of the Advocate General, Hungary will be required, as a member of the EU, to scrap lex CEU and restore the ability of CEU to operate as a US-accredited university in Hungary.
While the AG’s recommendation to the Court is a significant step, CEU’s current legal status in Hungary remains unchanged. As of January 2019, Lex CEU rendered it illegal for us to enroll students in our US-accredited degrees. As a result, we have been forced to open a campus in Vienna and will begin accepting all new students there in September 2020. The AG’s recommendation does not change the university’s plans. Until the government withdraws the legislation, we have no choice but to proceed with plans to transfer all US degree instruction to Vienna. At the same time, CEU will never allow the government to force us to abandon our home in Budapest. We will continue to maintain a vigorous public presence, with an Institute for Advanced Study, a Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, a Democracy Institute, our cognitive science labs and teaching in our Hungarian accredited programs."