Fidesz MPs don't want politicians to have to leave university boards of trustees
March 06. 2023. – 03:16 PM
"The Orbán government (...) betrayed university students so quickly that it can only be measured with a stopwatch," the Hungarian opposition party Democratic Coalition (DK) said in a press release. In the Hungarian Parliament's Justice Committee meeting on Monday morning, the ruling party MPs voted against a DK proposal to tighten the conflict of interest rules in the boards of trustees of university foundations.
The proposal suggested to have all politicians, state and local government leaders and other political appointees be excluded from the boards of trustees and supervisory boards of foundations that run higher education institutions.
Fidesz-KDNP MPs voted against the proposal, which means that it will not be put to Parliament. This is all the more interesting because on Sunday, MEP István Ujhelyi, followed as well as Népszava and Szabad Európa, reported that the European Commission did not accept the Hungarian government's proposals for the suspended Erasmus funding, which were made a few weeks ago.
It emerged on 9 January that higher education institutions in Hungary which operate as public interest trusts or are run by such trusts would not be eligible for fresh EU funding. At a government briefing held a month later, on 9 February, Gergely Gulyás, the PM's Press Chief announced that ministers had resigned from their positions on the board of trustees and that the same was expected of state secretaries, deputy state secretaries and government commissioners.
However, according to press reports, the European Commission was not entirely satisfied with this. They want all civil servants, state secretaries, government and ministerial appointees, as well as the heads of various public agencies and regulatory authorities to leave the boards of trustees, with the exception of mayors. According to Népszava, the European Commission would limit the current lifetime membership of boards of trustees to two four-year terms, and would also stipulate that civil servants who resign from their posts should not be allowed to serve on these bodies for at least two years.
"We are in the middle of a negotiation process, the next part of which will be the talks Tibor Navracsics, Minister for Regional Development will hold in Brussels on Wednesday, where, as always, we will seek an agreement. This is what we did earlier, when the EU officials asked for one thing: the departure of ministers and state secretaries from the boards of trustees. We have already complied with that," the press department of the Ministry for Regional Development responded to Telex.
Meanwhile, the rectors of all 21 higher education institutions under the control of foundations have written to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. According to an article in Magyar Nemzet, they described the decision to suspend the funding of the Erasmus program as unacceptable, and
request its immediate revision and the immediate reparation of the damage to their community's honour and the immediate redemption of their financial damages.
They consider it unprecedented that the Council's decision was reached without prior consultation with the leaders and communities of the universities that have changed models. According to the rectors, the new operating model does not involve any political pressure from the foundations that run the universities, and they add that the new model has made the universities more competitive.
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