EU Parliament launches action against Hungary over rule of law
EU Parliament launches action against Hungary over rule of law
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14 September, 2018, 18:29
But Hungary's case is the first time that the EU parliament is considering calling for the launch of the sanctions process for a member state because of a perceived threat to European values.
While voices were heard criticizing Orban in Strasbourg Tuesday, his Fidezs party is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) political group, the largest party in the European Parliament.
The report under consideration criticises his government's restrictions on the freedom of the media, academics and NGOs, its ill treatment of minority groups, refugees and asylum seekers, and its meddling with the judicial and electoral systems.
Wednesday's vote is the first time the European Parliament has voted to take such action against a member state under EU rules.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto described the vote as "nothing less than the petty revenge of pro-immigration politicians", according to the news service.
The measure to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedures garnered the necessary majority needed to pass, with 448 voting in favor of the motion, 197 against and 48 abstentions.
Asked about his expectations about the result of Wednesday's vote on the report, Orban said he was sure it would gather the two-thirds support needed for approval and then attempts would be made to expel Fidesz from the EPP.
But Dan Dalton, the Conservative's home affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "This report crosses a boundary by politicising what should be a purely legal matter".
"For years the Orbán administration has flaunted fundamental European Union values by shrinking the space for independent media to do its job and provide an array of information and opinion to Hungarian citizens", said Tom Gibson, CPJ's EU Representative.
"Do you Hungarians know better, they need inquired of the deputies of Orban".
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.
Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left, with disquiet also in the main centre-right parliamentary group, the European People's Party (EPP).
"I have nothing to compromise about since the questions they objected to were decided by the Hungarian people", Orban said Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, after the debate in the European Parliament on the report on Hungary.
In July, the EU executive body warned it could take Budapest to the European Court of Justice over laws under which anyone assisting an undocumented migrant could be jailed for a year.
He claimed that Hungary was facing "unfair accusations and lies". "If there is no movement in terms of substance, it will be hard for the Hungarian government".
The vote, however, has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU.
"We are not going to leave the EPP", Orban said.
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.
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