Saturday, 17 November, 2018

European Union parliament votes to stop Hungary’s ‘threat’ to democracy

Viktor Orban speaks during the final electoral rally of his Fidesz party in Szekesfehervar Hungary. The European Parliament is set to debate a move toward imposing political European Union parliament votes to stop Hungary’s ‘threat’ to democracy
Patty Aguilar | 14 September, 2018, 15:57

It's the first time Article 7 has been triggered against a member state, just the start of a long process which could lead to Hungary's voting rights being suspended. The European Commission launched Article 7 proceedings against Poland previous year that have yet to reach the European Parliament.

The vast majority of MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday voted to pursue disciplinary action against the Hungarian government over alleged breaches of the EU's core values.

If approved, the motion would theoretically open the way for sanctions such as a suspension of Hungary's voting rights in the European Union - but in practice that is sure to be blocked by Orban's ally, the nationalist government in Poland.

"Hungary will not accede to this blackmailing, Hungary will protect its borders, stop illegal migration and. if needed we will stand up to you", Viktor Orban said in a strong response to the accusations made in the European Parliament.

MEPs were forced into action after Orban's government introduced a popular "Stop Brussels" consultation and accused the European Union of conspiring to promote illegal immigration.

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

Grabbe's organization is part of the Open Society Foundations set up by Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, an ideological opponent of Orban and blamed by the Hungarian leader, along with the NGOs Soros supports, for promoting mass immigration into Europe.

Aside from its anti-immigrant stance, Orban's government is also accused of silencing independent media and academia, removing independent judges, cracking down on organisations helping homeless people, migrants or disadvantaged groups, such as Roma, and condoning government corruption.

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Poland's ally Hungary has pledged to veto any move to impose such penalties on Warsaw, which would effectively block the measure.

To become the first-ever case of the European Parliament asking EU capitals to launch the punitive mechanism against one of their own, it must win the backing of at least 376 lawmakers and two thirds of the votes cast.

From Croatia, four EPP MEPs, Ivana Maletic, Dubravka Suica, Zeljana Zovko and Marijana Petir, plus a Conservative, Ruza Tomasic, voted against triggering Article 7.

In July, the EU executive body warned it could take Budapest to the European Court of Justice over laws which call for up to a year in prison for anyone assisting an undocumented migrant.

French President Emmanuel Macron, an outspoken defender of European Union values, has urged the EPP to clarify its stance, saying it could not back both Merkel and Orban at the same time.

Other EU governments could halt any further action, however, and Poland - a fellow ex-communist state that is also facing an Article 7 procedure - has warned it would do so. Should the EPP move against it, Fidesz would be under huge pressure to leave the group.

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.

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