European Parliament vote to sanction Hungary is blackmail

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

The mood at the European Parliament in Strasbourg turned volatile on Tuesday when Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, during a tense debate on issues including his country's rule of law, accused European representatives of insulting Hungary.

The vote represents a particular challenge for EPP head Manfred Weber, a German, since he announced his bid for the presidency of the EU's executive Commission next year.

With 448 votes in favour, 197 against and 48 abstentions, the motion passed in the Strasbourg plenary session on Wednesday, the first time the European legislature has triggered "Article 7" procedure against an EU member state.

The motion passed with the required two-thirds majority of 448 MEPs backing the declaration that Hungary is at "clear risk of serious breach" of European Union core values, including judicial independence, academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Among other consequences, the country could be stripped of its vote in the European Council.

The European Parliament will vote next week on a proposal to trigger Article 7 against Hungary. They would need unanimity to sanction Orban, making any tough punishement highly unlikely.

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

In his address, Timmermans added that the Commission "will not hesitate to take further action if necessary" should Orban refuse to comply with the Parliament's eventual ruling onceSargentini's report is reviewed by the MEPs.

Dutch anti-Islam campaigner and MP Geert Wilders described the vote on Twitter as "a bloody shame".

- "We have defended Hungary, and we have defended Europe".

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.

"Viktor Orban's government has been leading the charge against European values by silencing independent media, replacing critical judges, and putting academia on a leash", Sargentini said.

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He made a mistake and he's suffered the punishment of society. "He's punishing himself. Of course he is lucky there was no effect .


"In today's historic vote, the European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU. They deserve freedom of speech, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice and equality, all of which are enshrined in the European treaties". "If there is no movement in terms of substance, it will be hard for the Hungarian government".

Delivering more than the two-thirds majority required as many of Orban's allies in the conservative party deserted him, the vote, however, has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU.

Members of the European Union parliament have voted to begin a punitive procedure against Hungary for persistently flouting democratic rules.

"Be responsible for corruption should the Hungarian government and not the Hungarian people". But Orban remained steadfast that his policies wouldn't change.

He said it has sent MEPs and European Union countries a 100-plus page rebuttal of Sargentini's "false" charges and that Orban will give a robust, but brief defence on Tuesday. "There is nothing to talk about".

There is disquiet in the main centre right parliamentary group, the European People's Party (EPP), about his position, despite it including his Fidesz party. "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.

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