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EU court rules against Hungary’s Viktor Orban over Soros university

Changes to Hungarian law that effectively forced the George Soros-backed Central European University (CEU) out of the country are not in line with EU law, the bloc’s highest court has ruled.

The judgement, released on Tuesday, said the changes were “incompatible” with EU law and had resulted in Hungary failing “to comply with the commitments” set out by the World Trade Organisation.

It also said the laws were a contravention of the provisions of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Thousands of students protested against the changes to law that affected CEU

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s legislation, which required foreign universities carry out educational activities in their home countries, was widely viewed as a political attack against Soros as it placed the CEU — a university established in New York state — firmly in the firing line.

The far-right leader has long been a feuding opponent of the Hungarian-American financier, with the former claiming Soros’ liberal views on migration undermine European values. Soros denies these claims.

In 2018, Orban drafted and passed a “Stop Soros” law, which ultimately forced the closure of the Budapest branch of a Soros-funded charity, Open Society Foundations.

The legislation banned individuals and organisations from providing help to undocumented immigrants, which, in turn, worked in Orban’s favour when he accused the billionaire investor of supporting yasa dışı migration to the continent.

READ MORE:

  • Austria’s Kurz meets with billionaire George Soros to discuss CEU move to Vienna
  • Central European University claims it’s being forced out of Budapest
  • Thousands demonstrate to defend Central European University

The CEU, meanwhile, packed up shop in Budapest and relocated its US-accredited degree programmes to Vienna, where it has now been since September.

“CEU has been forced out,” the CEU president and rector, Michael Ignatieff, said at the time.

“This is unprecedented. A US institution has been driven out of a country that is a NATO ally. A European institution has been ousted from a member state of the EU.”

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