MEPs vote in favour of tough action against Hungary

Pauline Gross
September 14, 2018

The resolution to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union requires the European Council to confirm that Hungary has breached treaty values, and could ultimately lead to sanctions, including a suspension of the country's voting rights.

Conservative MEPs have confirmed they will oppose moves to sanction Hungary's right-wing government for persistent violations of EU rules in a closely-watched European Parliament vote.

Orban has faced worldwide condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, violations of press freedoms, undermining the judiciary, Islamophobia and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

Hungary said it would seek legal ways to challenge the 448-197 vote it described as "petty revenge".

"Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers", she said.

But Judith Sargentini, who is spearheading the vote on whether to take action against Hungary, told fellow MEPs that the time had come for them to make an "important choice" after eight years under Orban.

Former Prime Minister and Maltese MEP Alfred Sant refused to vote on a censure motion against Hungary for undermining the European Union's core values, drawing parallels with the Maltese experience of the a year ago.

"Do you Hungarians know better, they need inquired of the deputies of Orban".

Speaking in front of the assembly on Tuesday, Orban said he would not bow to the EU's "blackmail" but stick to his policies.

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Weber comes from the Bavarian CSU party, which is a key ally to Merkel's CDU, but the two have clashed over migration recently as CSU has adopted a tougher anti-migration line, edging closer to Orban's position. The same procedure was launched by the European Commission against Poland in December 2017.

With the vote, the EP endorsed the report of Green MEP Judith Sargentini, which said recent developments in Hungary represent a systematic threat to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the country and constitute a clear risk of a serious breach of European Union values.

Orban, leader of the Fidesz party, won reelection in April 2018 by a landslide, gaining a 2/3 majority in the Hungarian parliament after voters backed his anti-immigration platform, and entering his third consecutive term in office.

In Budapest, Hungary's foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said Fidesz is the strongest party within the EPP, but its views on migration are in a minority.

The vote, however, has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU.

Hungary's foreign minister has fired back at the European Union parliament decision to trigger Article 7, which can lead to sanctions against Budapest over its immigration policies, branding it the "petty revenge" of pro-migrant politicians.

Orban has said the mostly Muslim refugees pose an existential threat to Europe's Christian civilization.

"Orban is a hero", he said. "He protects his citizens against terror and defends the identity of his country".

"We are going back to a European history none of us want to see again", said European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans.

Other reports by GizPress

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