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Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban reacts during a plenary session at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels, Belgium April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal(reuters_tickers)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European centre-rights parties said on Saturday that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had promised to ensure the autonomy of universities after the EU started legal action against Budapest this week.
The European Commission on Wednesday gave Budapest a month to adapt its new higher education law passed on April 4, saying it was not compatible with the fundamental internal market freedoms.
The European Peoples Party (EPP), Europe's biggest centre-right party to which Orban's Fidesz belongs, called on the Hungarian leader to comply.
"Following the Commission's assessment... we have come to the conclusion that dialogue alone is not enough," EPP President Joseph Daul said in a statement.
"After an open and frank conversation with Prime Minister Orban ...this morning, the EPP demanded from Fidesz and from the Hungarian authorities that they take all necessary steps to comply with the Commission's request. Prime Minister Orban has reassured the EPP that Hungary will act accordingly," he said.
Daul also said the EPP told Orban to stop a "Let's stop Brussels" campaign against the EU in Hungary.
"The EPP has ... made clear to our Hungarian partners that the blatant anti-EU rhetoric of the 'Let's stop Brussels' consultation is unacceptable," Daul said.
"The constant attacks on Europe, which Fidesz has launched for years, have reached a level we cannot tolerate. This consultation has been deeply misleading," he said.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)