EU Parliament votes to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary - DW

Leroy Wright
September 14, 2018

Recent developments in Hungary have led to a serious deterioration in the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights which is testing the EU's ability to defend its founding values, the report found.

"All my solidarity. No to sanctions and to trials of freely elected governments", read the post by Salvini, who is also Italy's Deputy Prime Minister.

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 EU values.

"Hungary shall continue to defend its borders, stop illegal immigration and defend its rights - against you, too, if necessary", he said, drawing applause from the eurosceptic, far-right lawmakers in the assembly.

"Today's vote gives hope of putting European values back at the centre of EU's agenda", declared Leonie Martin, Vice President of JEF Europe.

With Britain scheduled to leave the bloc altogether in March and Europeans voting in European Parliament elections in May, the rows over Hungary and Poland highlight tensions between nationalist and federalist camps.

"A resounding majority of MEPs today rejected and condemned the retrograde policies of the Hungarian government, which are taking Hungary away from the path of shared European Union values".

Critics say that Hungary's electoral system is disproportionate; media freedoms and judicial independence are dwindling; asylum-seekers and refugees are mistreated and there are limits placed on non-governmental organizations.

The vote takes the first steps under Article Seven of the EU Treaty, known by some in Brussels as the "nuclear option", which could ultimately strip Hungary of its EU voting rights.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed, pn September 11, 2018, to defy European Union pressure to soften his hardline anti-migrant stance, condemning what he called the "blackmail" of his country.

"The European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU". This marks the first time the European Parliament has taken that step, though Poland faced similar action from the European Commission previous year.

The MEP said Hungary was going to challenge the vote in the parliament - an issue that could end up at the EU's top court.

"I reject that the pro-immigration and pro-migrant forces of the European Union should threaten and blackmail and smear Hungary and the Hungarian people based on false allegations", Orban said.

Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilder on social media called the results a "bloody shame" and Orban "a hero who deserves the Nobel Prize". But Orban remained steadfast that his policies wouldn't change.

On Tuesday, Orban said his country was being targeted for choosing not to be "a country of migrants" as he dismissed charges of corruption. "There is nothing to talk about".

They form the biggest faction in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP), where lawmakers with German Chancellor Angela Merkel also sit. "They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation", said Berber Biala-Hettinga, Amnesty International's expert on human rights in the EU.

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. Should the EPP move against it, Fidesz would be under huge pressure to leave the group.

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