ITM requests Academy to draw up an alternate proposal

Talks continued between the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the executives of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology (ITM) on Tuesday, 26 June

László Lovász, President of the Academy already informed the Presidium of the Academy on Tuesday. (The Presidium is the main decision making body of MTA between two General Assemblies. Its members are the Academy’s elected leaders: the President, the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, the three Vice-Presidents, and the leaders of the 11 scientific departments.) The executives of the Academy’s research network also participated in the meeting.

According to the Academy’s point of view, the opinions of Academy and Ministry leaders got slightly closer during the Tuesday morning meeting. The Academy’s leaders are to continue negotiations with the ITM (probably this week); and on Minister Palkovics’s request they are to give an alternative proposal concerning the budget.

The MTA and the ITM agree that sources for research and innovation purposes in the Hungarian budget must be separated. They are both of the opinion that within the research budget, excellence research must be handled separately, i.e. exploratory basic research must be separated from targeted research. However, the parties are still in debate regaridng the support of the Academy’s research network (which amounts to at least 17.1 billion HUF), which must be ensured in the budget’s MTA division. As the MTA is the most important and most successful center for exploratory research in Hungary, its support is indispensable.

The Presidium made the following resolution unanimously: the Presidium maintains its earlier resolution no. 31/2018 (15 June), and entitles the President and the elected executives of the Academy to proceed with negotiations with the ITM.

The previous resolution states that the Hungarian Academy of Sciences adheres to the vindication of rights ensured by Article X of Division “Freedom and Responsibility” of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, i.e. it protects the freedom of scientific research and recognizes the autonomy of the public body and ancillary institutions of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as a prerequisite for the performance of their public duties. (The full resolution is available here.)

The opinion of research network executives

At the Presidium’s meeting on Tuesday, the Council of Research Unit Executives (AKTV) presented their opinions. This council is made up of the director generals of research centres, the directors of research institutes and five representatives of supported research groups. AKTV also shares the view that regular labour and operational costs related to the core activities of the research network should remain part of the Academy’s annual budget.

International support for the Academy

On Tuesday, All European Academies (ALLEA) sent an open letter to László Palkovics, Minister of Innovation and Technology, in which the organization stands up for the autonomy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and its financial independence.

Sierd Cloething, President of Academia Europaea and Ole H. Petersen, Vice-President of Academia Europaea also sent an open letter to Minister Palkovics, in which they declare their support for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Information on budgetary planning

The Secretariat of the MTA informed the Ministry of Finance concerning the draft of the budgetary law, which stands in contrast to all prior consultations, that negotiations are in progress with the Ministry of Innovation and Technology about the final cardinal figures suggested for the MTA budget division. The leadership of the Academy does not agree with the transfer of two thirds of its budget to the ITM. Consequently, as the proposal is not supported by legislation, the President of the Academy did not and could not sign the proposed cardinal figures. Furthermore, the division’s preamble of the debated transfer could not be prepared either.