MEPs back sanctions against Viktor Orban's Hungary over migrant policy

Lester Mason
September 13, 2018

"I am so proud that my Hungary report has the support of the European Parliament, but this is foremost about the rights of Hungarian citizens", Sargentini wrote on Twitter after the vote.

The European parliament has voted to pursue disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU's core values.

"Hungary and the Hungarian people are being condemned because they proved that migration can be stopped and there is no need for migration", Szajer said.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wasted little time in slamming the vote as "nothing less than the petty revenge of pro-immigration politicians".

Sargentini said she expected to be invited by the council to present her report and wants European parliament president Antonio Tajani to help her with that.

More than two-thirds of MEPs backed the censure motion - the first such vote against a member state under European Union rules.

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.

Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People Party group (EPP), on Wednesday voted in favour of launching Article 7 proceedings, which could lead to the suspension of Hungary's European Union voting rights.

Orban has for years deflected much of the global condemnation of Hungary's electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum-seekers and refugees and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organizations.

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.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Sept.11, 2018.

"We welcome the European Parliament's decision to defend the rule of law and confront the Hungarian government's attempts to shut down civil society and independent voices in the media and academia", said Heather Grabbe, director of the Open Society European Policy Institute.

On Tuesday, Orban said his country was being targeted for choosing not to be "a country of migrants" as he dismissed charges of corruption.

Italy's anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, whose League party has six lawmakers in the European body, said separately: "We will vote in defense of Orban".

The Commission has preferred to pressure Budapest through standard legal powers, but the head of the European Union executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, also an EPP member, said he would have voted for the move if he were a lawmaker.

The 197 votes cast against the parliament's first bid to launch the punitive process of the EU treaty's Article 7 also 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 behavior agreed in Brussels.

Weber, a candidate to succeed fellow EPP member Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the commission next year, saw his bloc vote 115 for, 57 against with 28 abstentions.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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