European Union lawmakers to confront 'threat' of Hungary's Orban

Postado Setembro 14, 2018

The European Parliament on Wednesday (12 September) voted overwhelmingly to trigger a sanctions procedure against Hungary over prime minister Viktor Orban's challenge to EU rules and values on media freedom, migration and rule of law dating back several years.

MEPs will vote Wednesday on whether to call on member states to trigger Article 7 measures, created to prevent a serious breach of European values.

Much of Orban's conservative European People's Party in the European Parliament which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats voted in favour of the motion to sanction Hungary over the rule of law.

But the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, launched similar steps under article seven against Poland in December a year ago over its alleged threat to the independence of the courts.

The report said Orban's government had sought to increase its influence over judges and courts, was suppressing dissenting voices including in the media, and was responsible for widespread fraud and corruption in public projects.

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.

"We stand up for the rights of all Europeans, including Hungarian citizens and we defend our European values", said Judith Sargentini, a Dutch Green parliament member who led the effort.

"I reject that the European Parliament's forces supporting immigration and migrants threaten, blackmail and with untrue accusations defame Hungary and the Hungarian people", he said during a feisty speech.

Mr Orban has for years faced worldwide condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

"We don't see these people as Muslim refugees".

And Timmermans told Orban "if you want to be a member of a club you have to abide by the rules", saying the Commission would take Hungary to court if it found it had violated European Union rules.

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.

At the time, Hungary strongly backed Poland, vowing to erect an "insurmountable roadblock" against the motion by vetoing it in the European Council. "The start of a dialogue based on Article 7.1 could be needed", Manfred Weber told the chamber on Tuesday.

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. He has also expressed his desire to remain within the EPP, which he said was "deeply divided" on the issue of migration.

"Our perspective is something that would help the EPP remain the strongest political community or group in the European Parliament", Kovacs said.

"We believe that there can be no compromises on the rule of law and democracy", Kurz told ORF television.