EU sanction threat 'no danger' to Hungary: PM Orban

Lester Mason
September 15, 2018

The resolution was passed by a vote of 448 to 197, with 48 abstentions, meeting the two-thirds majority threshold needed to begin such legal action.

"Actions aimed against member states serve only deepening divides in the EU, increasing citizens' current lack of confidence to European institutions".

The decision creates head winds for Orban's ambitious quest to remake the continent in his model of "illiberal democracy" - a bloc that would be closer to Russian Federation, less open to migration, and less concerned about independent judiciaries, a free press, and minority rights.

The EPP's leader, Manfred Weber, said he would vote in favor of the motion against Orban's government, whose Fidesz party belongs to his grouping.

A breach of EU values justifies a reaction at EU level and this is what the procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union aims to achieve. "The Hungarian people deserve better".

According to European Commission documents, the first set of procedures, Article 7 (1), are meant to help prevent "a serious breach of European values".

Some politicians from other countries also defended Mr Orban's government.

Macron said the vote presented a choice of "values" for the Old Continent's future. They strongly deny it was to secure Hungary's support in the Brexit process or out of admiration for the country's leader.

Bringing the Article 7 procedure to the final stage would require the unanimous support of all other European Union member states, which analysts say is unlikely.


In an unprecedented move on Wednesday, more than two thirds of EP lawmakers voted to sanction Hungary due to concerns over Orban's pressuring of courts, the media and non-government groups and his refusal to take in migrants.

The same procedure is already underway against Poland, this time triggered by the European Commission, EUobserver reports.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto slammed the vote as "nothing less than the petty revenge of pro-immigration politicians".

He contended that the vote was "fraudulent" and insisted that under European agreements abstentions should have been counted as votes against adopting the report.

A decision by Budapest on how to mount a legal challenge on the Strasbourg vote's validity will be taken on Monday, he added. The group of leftists and greens in the assembly said "Orban's authoritarian moves must be curbed".

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

Opposition parties hailed the EP's decision as a win for democracy that rejected the Hungarian government's illiberal policies.

But Ms Sargentini, who wrote the report on Mr Orban's government, said the decision sent an important message that the European Union would stand up for citizens' rights.

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 European Union - if nothing else, its Polish ally would veto that.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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