Hungarian scientists mull legal action over government controls

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The head of Hungary’s oldest scientific institute said it was considering taking legal action to challenge government moves to take more control over research work and budgets.

The nationalist administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has proposed a shake-up of the 200-year-old Hungarian Academy of Sciences that it says is meant to encourage more lucrative research.

Opposition critics have condemned it as Orban’s latest move to tighten the state’s grip on public life, after overhauls of the courts, the media and a top university that have put him on a collision course with the European Union.

The legislation would strip the Academy of its network of research bodies and hand them over to a committee with a chairman appointed by Orban and half its members from the government.

Another part of the bill would make the academy give state organisations free use of its research facilities.

Academy President Laszlo Lovasz told Reuters late on Tuesday that the institution was considering challenging the legislation in the constitutional court.

“One of the highly problematic aspects is the excessive influence of the government by European standards,” he said in an interview.

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