Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

European Union parliament pushes Hungary sanctions over Orban laws

European Union lawmakers voted on Wednesday in favor of initiating measures [materials] against the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban [official website] for allegedly breaching the values upon which the European Union was founded.

European Union legislators voted overwhelmingly in favour of launching punitive action against the Hungarian government for flouting democratic rules on Wednesday.

Manfred Weber, leader of the European People's Party, the largest of the European Parliament's political groups, and the one which includes Orban's Fidesz party, was clear during Tuesday's debate that he would support the Article 7 resolution.

The ultimate sanction, the suspension of Hungary's voting rights, is unlikely as Poland is likely to veto any such move.

Hungary has promoted Moscow's interests within the European Union, repeatedly calling for the ending of economic sanctions imposed after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Mr. Orban's government introduced a law that criminalised representation of asylum seekers by lawyers and activists with accusations of silencing independent media and curtailing academic freedom also been levelled against him.

On Tuesday Weber said the European Union might need to consider launching the sanctions procedure, under Article 7.1 of the bloc's Lisbon Treaty, if Budapest did not address the criticisms. This rarely invoked process is created to prevent member states from breaching the EU's "core values". Macron has sought to take the lead in fighting nationalists including Orban and Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and he has called himself the "main opponent" of the two politicians.

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Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Foreign Minister said that the European Parliament's decision is a "petty revenge" against Hungary by pro-immigration politicians.

Poland is also facing disciplinary proceedings, launched by the European Commission in December past year. Farage also encouraged Orban to "join the Brexit club".

The deputy head of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said on Tuesday he shared its authors' concerns about "fundamental rights, corruption, the treatment of Roma and the independence of the judiciary" in Hungary under Orban.

"Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers", she said.

The European Parliament launched the action, citing the concern of a "serious breach of European values".

When asked for comment, a Hungarian government representative cited Palkovics' interview from June in which he had said they are "currently examining whether actual training is being performed by the CEU in the United States with the involvement of education experts". "We're fighting to make our position the majority", he said, adding that Fidesz wanted to steer the EPP back onto the Christian democratic path he said would preserve Europe's identity. The President of the European Commission also voiced his support on Twitter, affirming he was "in harmony" with the decision.

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