The European Court of Justice condemns Hungary for violating academic freedom and the right to education


On 6 October, an important judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled against Hungary for violating the fundamental right of academic freedom and the right to education.  

To retrace the events, in April 2017, the Hungarian authorities amended the national law on higher education imposing new requirements for foreign higher education institutions to carry out their activity in the Hungarian territory. As a condition to operate in Hungary, the act imposed on foreign universities the obligation to sign a bilateral agreement between the Hungarian government and the foreign university’ country of origin. As immediate consequence, the new legislation impeded the functioning of the privately funded Central European University (CEU) which mainly enrols foreign students and employs mostly foreign education personnel. Therefore, the European Commission brought an action against the Hungarian provisions before the ECJ.

At that time, ETUCE issued a letter of solidarity to the Hungarian member unions, FDSZ, PSZ and PDSZ,  that strongly denounced the act and argued that the government acted without any prior consultation with the national social partners.

In its judgment Commission v Hungary (Higher Education (C-66/18), the European Court of Justice ruled against the conditions that Hungary imposed on foreign higher education institutions.  According to the European Court, the measures constitute a violation of the Articles 13, 14(3) and 16 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights protecting right to education based on democratic principles, and the respect of academic freedom in higher education and research.

The ETUCE welcomes this judgment as it is essential  to reaffirm the respect of academic freedom and democracy in Hungary and continues to stand with its member organisations in their continuous effort to protect the democratic principles and the fundamental rights of education.

To read the full ECJ judgment, please, click here.