“Landmark Judgment” - Lex CEU Struck Down by European Court of Justice

In a case brought by the European Commission, the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, has ruled that ‘lex CEU’ violates Hungary’s commitments under the WTO, and infringes the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union relating to academic freedom.

The judgment from the European Court of Justice in Commission v Hungary (C-66/18) related to the Hungarian law amending the 2017 Law on higher education.

The case resulted in a landmark decision that strengthens legal protections for free institutions across Europe. The Court agreed with the European Commission that Hungary has breached WTO law, EU law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union “relating to academic freedom, the freedom to found higher education institutions and the freedom to conduct a business.”

Today’s decision means that Lex CEU is no longer applicable. CEU is free to operate its US degree programs in Budapest. It is also an important moral and legal victory as well as a historic victory for academic freedom in Europe.

In his message to the community, Rector and President Michael Ignatieff stated that the ruling is “a complete vindication of the position we took at CEU since the beginning of the lex CEU crisis in March 2017.” The Rector added that he hoped the landmark judgment will strengthen the legal protections for academic freedom across Europe.

Rector Ignatieff concluded his message by thanking the community for their solidarity, and resilience: “Each one of us should take pride in what we have achieved, not just for ourselves, but for the cause of academic freedom and institutional autonomy in Europe.”

A message to our supporters—the hundreds of thousands of you in Hungary and across the world—who fought with us, marched with us, lobbied on behalf of us: thank you.

We got through this with your help.