Statement from concerned Europeans on the Central European University

We call on EU governments, leaders and the European Commission to strongly denounce the Hungarian government's attack on academic freedom.

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In the past 24 hours the Hungarian parliament has fast-tracked into law a bill designed to force the closure of the Central European University (CEU), one of the most prestigious academic institutions in Europe.

For CEU to continue operating in Hungary, the new law would require the creation of a CEU campus in New York, as well as a bilateral education treaty between Hungary and the US federal government, which has no power to sign education treaties.

Contrary to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s affectation of concern for ‘fairness’ in competition between universities, these impossible requirements were expressly designed to target an independent university. This is an attack on academic freedom within the European Union. If CEU has to close, it will jeopardise EU-funded research by disrupting the scholarly projects in which CEU participates.

In the past, EU foreign ministers have rightly criticised government intimidation of academics and students in Turkey, and Russian attempts to close down the European University in St Petersburg. Yet they have thus far stayed silent on Hungary’s latest attempt to repress independent voices, inviting charges of hypocrisy and double standards. We believe the European Union should demonstrate its commitment to liberal values within as well as outside its borders.

We call on EU governments, leaders and the European Commission to strongly denounce the Hungarian government's attack on academic freedom, and urge Prime Minister Orban to abide by the fundamental principles and values in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union, and to rescind the laws that contradict them.


The following have signed in their individual capacities:


Yoeri Albrecht – Director, De Balie  
Douglas Alexander former UK Secretary of State for International Development  
Niels Annen – Member of the Bundestag
Gordon Bajnai – former Prime Minister of Hungary
Marek Belka – former Prime Minister of Poland 
Eric Beinhocker – Executive Director, Institute for New Economic Thinking, University of Oxford 
Erik Berglöf Director, Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics 
Emma Bonino – Co-chair of the Board of ECFR; former Foreign Minister of Italy  
Stine Bosse – Chairman and Non-Executive Board Member; Adjunct Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Robert Cooper – Diplomat; former Counsellor of the European External Action Service
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer former NATO Secretary General; former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands 
Andrew Duff – Visiting Fellow, European Policy Centre  
Tanja Fajon – Member of the European Parliament
Karin Forseke (Sweden/USA) – former Deputy Chairman, Financial Services Authority (FSA) 
Lykke Friis – Prorector, University of Copenhagen; former Minister for Climate, Energy and Gender Equality
Timothy Garton Ash – Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford
George Gaskell – Emeritus Professor, LSE
Carlos Gaspar – Board Member, Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI)  
Heather Grabbe Executive Director, Open Society Policy Institute  
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff – Member of the European Parliament; Vice President of ALDE
Charles Grant Director, Centre for European Reform  
Ulrike Guerót – Professor, Donau University  
Connie Hedegaard former European Commissioner for Climate Action
Ayşe Kadıoğlu – Acting President, Sabanci University, Istanbul  
Mary Kaldor – Professor, London School of Economics  
Kaja Kallas – Member of the European Parliament
Sandra Kalniete – Member of the European Parliament
Roderich Kiesewetter – Member of the German Parliament
David Koranyi – Director, Energy Diplomacy Initiative, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council
Pascal Lamy – Honorary President, Notre Europe; former Director-General of the WTO; former EU Commissioner   
Remzi Lani – Director, Albanian Media Institute 
Mark Leonard – Co-founder and Director, European Council on Foreign Relations
Sonja Licht – President, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence  
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar – Member of European Parliament; former Justice Minister of Spain   
Dominique Moïsi – Senior Advisor, IFRI  
Hedvig Morvai – Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans
Michelle Muentefering  Member of the German Parliament
Christine Ockrent Commentator and writer; Presenter of 'Affaires Internationales', France Culture Radio
Andrzej Olechowski – former Foreign Minister of Poland  
Dick Oosting – former CEO, European Council on Foreign Relations  
Andrés Ortega – Senior Research Fellow, Elcano Institute  
Behlul Özkan – Assistant Professor, Marmara University  
Laurence Parisot – former Vice-President, IFOP
George Papandreou – former Prime Minister of Greece; President, Socialist International
Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz – Head, Open Europe Programme, Stefan Batory Foundation
Diana Pinto – Historian and author  
Kati Piri – Member of the European Parliament  
Georgi Pirinski – Member of the European Parliament; former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria  
Louise Richardson – Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford  
Albert Rohan Ambassador (retired) 
Adam D. Rotfeld – former foreign minister of Poland; Co-chairman of Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters; Commissioner of Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative  
Norbert Röttgen – Member of Parliament, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Bundestag
Janet Royall Member of the UK House of Lords; former leader of the opposition in the House of Lords
Karel Schwarzenberg – Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chamber of Deputies; former Foreign Minister
Marietje Schaake Member of the European Parliament
Pierre Schori – Chair of Olof Palme Memorial Fund; former Director-General, FRIDE; former SRSG Cote d'Ivoire
Radosław Sikorski – former Foreign Minister of Poland
Javier Solana – former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy & Secretary-General of the Council of the EU; former Secretary General of NATO  
Volker Stanzel – former Ambassador to China and Japan  
Alexander Stubb – former Prime, Finance-, Foreign-, Europe- and Trade Minister of Finland  
Anna Terrón Special Advisor to the European Commissioner for Trade; President, InStrategies  
Nathalie Tocci Deputy Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali  
Erkki Tuomioja – former Foreign Minister of Finland
Tomáš Valášek – Director, Carnegie Europe 
Ivan Vejvoda Director, Europe Project, Institute for Human Sciences
Antonio Vitorino – Lawyer; former EU Commissioner

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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