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UNIFI is satisfied with the European Parliament’s decision to invoke Article 7 concerning the situation in Hungary – Academic freedom must be protected

The European Parliament voted on 12 September 2018 to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary for undermining democratic values. Universities Finland UNIFI is satisfied with the decision.

– We are very concerned about the situation in Hungary. It is good to see that the Parliament is willing to take action and protect the Union’s core values, which are of high importance to all European universities, states UNIFI’s executive director Leena Wahlfors.

This is the first time that Parliament has called on the Council of the EU to act against a member state in this kind of matter.

Earlier this year Parliament released a report which points to the ”existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded”. Among these values are academic freedom, freedom of expression and the right to and freedom of education.

As European University Association points out, Hungary is the first EU member state to systematically interfere in university matters and repeatedly violate academic freedom.

– The development we have seen is extremely troubling and could harm all the EU states in the long run. Members must now unite their forces to prevent this from happening. Europe needs free research and education as well as strong democracy in order to be able to tackle the future challenges, Wahlfors says.

UNIFI strongly condemns all measures which go against fundamental university values. Our earlier statement on the situation of Hungary can be read here.

The Parliament’s proposal for a Council decision will now be sent to the 28 member states. If they reach a four fifths majority decision, they may determine the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach of the EU values. Later on, the procedure could lead to sanctions, such as the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights in the Council.

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