Sharp debates about Hungary and the EU

14 September, 2018, 18:30 | Author: Lucy Floyd

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.

But Judith Sargentini, who is spearheading a vote Wednesday on whether to take action against Hungary, warned her fellow MEPs that the 28-nation bloc's founding values are at stake.

Adopted by 448 votes for to 197 against and with 48 abstentions, the motion marked the first time the parliament has itself initiated steps under Article Seven of the European Union's treaty.

"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.

These were dubbed the "Stop Soros" laws after liberal Hungarian-born United States billionaire George Soros, who is accused without evidence by Orban's government of orchestrating migration to Europe.

"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.

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If it does, it will then be up to the European Council, which is made up heads of governments, to decide on what action to take.

But Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs claimed in a tweet that the motion had failed because the overall vote did not receive the support of two-thirds present.

Since sweeping to power in 2010, Orban has pressured Hungary's courts, media and non-governmental groups, as well as refusing to take in asylum seekers arriving in Europe.

The clash was over a damning EU report that has triggered a vote - due Wednesday - over whether to suspend Hungary's voting rights in the union until it has changed direction.

"Hungary is going to be condemned because the Hungarian people have decided that this country is not going to be a country of migrants", Orban said, before launching a searing attack on the European Union and the report.

Mr Szijjarto said Hungary was considering legal options to appeal against the result because of the way the vote was tallied.

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On Monday the leader of Austria's far-right party, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, said he would "gladly" invite Orban's party into a common bloc, and Italy's new far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has also expressed admiration for Orban. The same procedure was launched by the European Commission against Poland in December 2017.

The Hungarian government and its media have used the Sargentini report to foment hatred towards the EU and George Soros, with the aim of boosting support for the ruling parties ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election, commentators have said.

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

It was a "coward's way out" for Orban to pretend this was a criticism of Hungary or its people rather than its government, he said.

"Do you Hungarians know better, they need inquired of the deputies of Orban".

The motion against Orban's Hungary goes well beyond the migration issue. The group of leftists and greens in the assembly said "Orban's authoritarian moves must be curbed".

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"We are not going to leave the EPP", Orban said.

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