Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Poland would vote against the imposition of European Union sanctions against Hungary

German Chancellor Merkel welcomes Czech Prime Minister Babis in Berlin Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis attends a news conference in Berlin Germany
Ellis Copeland | 16 September, 2018, 16:27

To be adopted, the proposal needs to receive the support of an absolute majority of MEPs, namely 376, and two thirds of the MEPs who take part in the vote.

Since sweeping to power in 2010, Orban has pressured Hungary's courts, media and, as well as refusing to take in asylum seekers arriving in Europe. The motion, supported by Parliament's civil liberties committee in June, brings up a number of concerns about the functioning of the country's institutions, including problems with the electoral system, independence of the judiciary and the respect for citizens' rights and freedoms.

The most severe punishment under the Article 7 procedure is stripping the country of its voting rights in the European Union, however, that is highly unlikely to happen as the rest of the European Union needs unanimity and Poland's nationalist and anti-immigration government is expected to block any tough action against Mr Orban. The message to government is clear: undermining and violating basic rights and values can not go unpunished in Europe, Socialist MEP Istvan Ujhelyi said.

Other EU governments could halt any further action, however, and Poland has warned it would do so.

He said Europe had no right to interfere in the actions of a sovereign government.

Commenting on Tuesday's EP debate, he said he found it "hard to believe" that someone like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán could sit through a "modern-day version of a communist show trial with people standing up and pointing the finger and shouting at him". The group of leftists and greens in the assembly said "Orban's authoritarian moves must be curbed".

In a statement explaining why he voted differently to his colleagues, Karim said Orban because he had "actively promoted a campaign of Islamaphobia" and "singled out Jewish-Hungarian political activist George Soros in a xenophobic crusade".

Dutch lawmaker Sophie in 't Veld urged the EU to consider cutting generous subsidies to Hungary, asking: "Why are we giving Mr Orban 87 million euros a week in order to destroy the European Union?"

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"It is very concerning that the Conservative Party MEPs chose to defend Hungary's appalling track record, rather than supporting this motion to protect the rule of law".

The EPP membership has muted European Union reaction to Orban's policies over the years and the big question mark is what the group's 217 members will now do.

"I thank my colleagues that stand for the protection of democracy and the rule of law, above their interest in party politics", she wrote.

The EPP decided on Tuesday evening that its lawmakers would vote freely without a unified stance from the whole group.

Orban has often been in conflict with Brussels over his policies but has sometimes tweaked controversial legislation in the past in order to reach a compromise.

But the vote was still hard to call.

Even EPP leader Mandred Weber, who earlier was supportive of Orban and is seeking to become the European Commission president next year, said he had voted for triggering Article 7.

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