EU parliament pushes Hungary sanctions over Orban laws - International

EU parliament pushes Hungary sanctions over Orban laws - International

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's often toxic relationship with the European Union came to a head on September 12 when the European Parliament chose to trigger the so-called Article 7 procedure under EU law which would suspend some of Budapest's rights in the EU institutions after Orban's government was found to be a "systemic threat" to European values in the county.

"Pro-migration representatives hold majority in the European Parliament".

Speaking to European lawmakers on Tuesday, Orban described the vote as an act of revenge against Hungary for refusing to take in refugees under an EU-wide resettlement quota scheme.

It is a unclear however whether the 750-strong legislature can muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass the motion finding that Hungary has persistently breached the European Union core values under Orban.

"Will you let it happen that a government. violates the values on which this union was built without consequences?" the Green MEP from the Netherlands asked.

Her report voices concerns about the Hungarian judiciary's independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of minorities and refugees.

Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left.

Some members of the European People's Party bloc - which Hungarian PM Viktor Orban's Fidesz movement belongs to - voted against their ally in Budapest.

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"I'm the first to oppose measures or sanctions against the Hungarian people and of this country, ' said guy Verhofstadt".

But the 197 votes cast against the parliament's first bid to launch the punitive process of the EU treaty's Article 7 highlighted the substantial minority of European opinion who see Orban as a crusader for the rights of nation states and ethnic majorities against rules of civic behaviour agreed in Brussels.

With Britain about to leave the bloc altogether in March and Europeans voting in European Parliament elections in May, the row over Hungary - and Poland, which faces a similar sanctions procedure launched by the executive European Commission in 2017 - highlights tensions between nationalist and federalist camps.

While Orban's actions have provoked opposition, they have been applauded by populists in the European Union, with prominent far-right figures floating the idea of forging a pan-European alliance ahead of next year's elections.

Orban has blamed Merkel for Europe's migration crisis, while the Hungarian leader was criticised for breaching global standards and rules on migration and treating asylum seekers harshly.

"Hungary will protect its borders, stop illegal migration and defend its rights", said Orban, who embraces a vision of a Christian Europe and opposes an influx of Muslims and others. The most severe punishment under the Article 7 procedure is stripping Hungary of its voting rights in the EU. They form the biggest faction in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP), where lawmakers with German Chancellor Angela Merkel also sit. Should the EPP move against it, Fidesz would be under huge pressure to leave the group.

Also on Tuesday night Orban also faced the prospect of his party being kicked out of the right-wing party group in the European parliament.

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