Monday, 19 November, 2018

European Parliament vote to sanction Hungary is blackmail

EU lawmakers to confront'threat of Hungary's Orban EU Parliament to Debate Possible Sanctions Against Hungary
| 14 September, 2018, 18:29

"All my solidarity. No to sanctions and to trials of freely elected governments", read the post by Salvini, who is also Italy's Deputy Prime Minister.

The outcome of the vote, scheduled for the following day, could have a serious impact on Fidesz's position within the European People's Party (EPP).

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.

The European Parliament on Wednesday voted to punish Hungary for cracking down on democratic institutions, setting off a process that could ultimately lead to the suspension of the country's voting rights in the bloc.

The issue of decision for European conservatives is whether they like what Orban says about democracy and academic freedom and a free press, Ignatieff added.

S&D Group vice-president responsible for the report on Hungary, Josef Weidenholzer MEP, said that "Viktor Orbán, we will not stand aside while you trample on the rights of ordinary Hungarians".

The voting, however, does not mean immediate sanctions against Hungary, as the parliament passes the motion to the European Council, which has to unanimously decide on the punitive measures.

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

At question is whether recent actions taken by the Hungarian government - including several anti-migrant measures - run the risk of being a "serious breach of European Union values".


Orban has faced global condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, violations of press freedoms, undermining the judiciary, Islamophobia and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations. It theoretically opens the way for sanctions such as a suspension of Hungary's voting rights in the European Union - but in practice that is sure to be blocked by Hungary's ally, the nationalist government in Poland.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed, pn September 11, 2018, to defy European Union pressure to soften his hardline anti-migrant stance, condemning what he called the "blackmail" of his country.

"You say no more than the Hungarian people cannot decide for themselves what is in their own interest".

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. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, launched Article 7 proceedings against Poland a year ago over its judicial reforms.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch anti-immigration Freedom Party, called the vote - which also weighed on Hungarian assets - "a bloody shame".

Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left, with disquiet also in the main centre-right parliamentary group, the European People's Party (EPP).

"I have nothing to compromise about since the questions they objected to were decided by the Hungarian people", Orban said Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, after the debate in the European Parliament on the report on Hungary.

In Budapest, Hungary's foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said Fidesz is the strongest party within the EPP, but its views on migration are in a minority.

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