MTA submitted suggestions for draft law amendment

The MTA upholds the resolutions passed by the 191st General Assembly: the research network should remain within the capacity of the Academy, with a new management system that suits the government’s objectives better. On these grounds, the MTA handed over their manifesto to the Ministry of Innovation and Technology about the draft law amendment on 30 May 2019, and also compiled a list of suggestions submitted on 1 June.

2019. június 4.

As published earlier, in the manifesto of 30 May 2019 handed over to the representatives of the ITM, the Academy listed each and every provision of the proposed law amendment that contradicted the resolutions which the Strategic and Professional Committee, jointly established by the MTA and the ITM earlier this year, had adopted based on a consensus. The MTA requested that these provisions come into force in their version which had been agreed upon. (The full text of the manifesto has been sent to the members of the Presidium and the leaders of the research network, and now the full text is also available on MTA’s homepage in Hungarian.)

After the above steps, a new version of the draft law arrived at the Secretariat of MTA on 31 May. In this version a new text was added about certain state support to be earmarked for the operation of the research network, this kind of support not being fully equivalent, though, to the basic budget currently provided by law to the MTA to cover operational expenses.. On 1 June, the President of the Academy, László Lovász met with László Palkovics, Minister of ITM. At this meeting, the President repeated the Academy’s point of view and made comments on the draft law amendment. In the evening of the same day a document spelling out these comments was also sent to the Minister of ITM and to all the ministers of the Hungarian Government. In this document the Academy makes the following statements:

The Academy upholds its resolutions passed by the 191st General Assembly and protests against the separation of the research network from the Academy. Besides the widely and repeatedly communicated scientific and other professional arguments, the following reasons are given:

  • without any justifications or explanations, the researchers of the Academy are being forced to leave their internationally and nationally highly renowned Academy, which has centuries-old traditions and has been operating independently of politics for decades;
  • the only public task explicitly assigned to the management organization of the new research network (Secretariat of the Roland Eötvös Research Network) is to “maintain and operate the network of research institutes”, for which the assets should still be provided by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences according to the new law, which would make the establishment of a new institution pointless;
  • in the light of constitutional law it raises concerns thatthe legal provisions governing the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA) and those governing MTA would become largely different (e.g. the MMA is allowed to operate state-financed research institutes);
  • the draft law sent by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology on 27 May 2019 (and on 31 May 2019) lacked an impact analysis, though it is required by the Law on Legislation;
  • Article 4 of the draft law, which concerns the assets of the Academy, restricts the owner’s property rights to an extent which is unacceptably high, in the form of a singular regulation, a measure which practically amounts to expropriation without compensation, and as such, it is in breach of Subsection 2 of Section XIII of the Fundamental Law of Hungary.

MTA has requested to withdraw the parts of the draft law that concern the Academy. MTA made it clear that the comments made to the proposed text should not be interpreted as MTA’s consent to the changes. Besides contesting the separation of the research network, MTA also protested against several suggestions of the ITM, including changes to the tasks of the Academy ensured by the Fundamental Law, the Academy’s property, and the proposed management system of the new research network in contrast to the model accepted by the General Assembly.

On 3 June 2019, the Academy’s delegation had another meeting with the ITM.

The organizers of the rally in support of the Academy on 2 June read out the message of the President of the MTA:

“The past year has been one of the most difficult ones in the history of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, founded in 1825. We do not yet know the end of the story. We still do not know whether the Academy’s fight for the autonomy of science will prove to be successful.

I still hope decision makers will not only hear but also consider the arguments of the academicians, the most excellent young researchers from the Lendület (Momentum) groups, the employees of MTA, the overwhelming majority of the Hungarian scientific community and Hungarian and international supporters of Hungarian science.” – wrote László Lovász. The full text of the message is available on our homepage both in English and Hungarian.