Hungary's FinMin Criticises EC’s Approach to Erasmus Program, & US Inflation Reduction Act

  • 18 Jan 2023 9:03 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Hungary's FinMin Criticises EC’s Approach to Erasmus Program, & US Inflation Reduction Act
Should negotiations with the Economic Commission fail, Hungary will bear the costs of the Erasmus student grant programme, Finance Minister Mihály Varga said on Tuesday in Brussels.

Speaking after a meeting of EU finance ministers (ECOFIN), Varga said the Swedish presidency prioritised strengthening the EU’s capacity for action, and the examination of the payment of recovery funding Hungary is entitled to should be part of that process, he said.

“Hungary has fulfilled all the EC’s requirements; it has reached an agreement with it, and the government is working to remove all obstacles in the way of the funding payments,” he said, adding that the EC’s approach regarding the Erasmus programme was “unfathomable”.

Despite the fact that the area of education policy is a competency of EU member states, and the establishment of university foundations has been going on for the past decade, the EC is now criticising the Hungarian practice, he said.

Meanwhile, several member states have entrusted the operation of universities to foundations, and several MEPs sit on the boards of those institutions, he said. “The EC seems to have no objections to that,” he added.

The ministers also discussed concerns regarding the US Inflation Reduction Act. Hungary sees the regulation as dangerous to EU competitiveness as it slashes taxes on US electric cars and batteries, putting those manufactured in the EU at a comparative disadvantage.

“Europe is already at a competitive disadvantage due to the war and sanctions; we cannot allow that to go any further as it would harm European and Hungarian competitiveness and cost us jobs,” he said, adding that Hungary’s government was working to preserve the country’s competitiveness.

DK Calls for Convening Parlt EU Affairs CTTEE Over Erasmus Grants

The opposition Democratic Coalition has called for parliament’s European affairs committee to be convened after the European Commission excluded some Hungarian universities from its Erasmus programmes.

The EC has initiated excluding universities that participated in the government’s structural reforms, deputy leader Balázs Barkóczi told a press conference.

He insisted the reason was that despite the EC’s warning, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “decided to line his ministers’ pockets with a couple of million forints”.

The committee would hear János Csák, the minister for culture and innovation, and regional development minister Tibor Navracsics, he said.

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