European Union lawmakers say yes to disciplinary action against Hungary

European Union lawmakers say yes to disciplinary action against Hungary

European Union lawmakers say yes to disciplinary action against Hungary

The European Parliament denounced the endangering of democratic values by Hungary and urged the European Commission to react by launching the so-called Article 7 procedure, and voted for adopting the report.

MEPs will decide on Wednesday whether to launch disciplinary action against Hungary in what would be the most significant rebuke of Orban's right-wing government by the bloc.

The vote comes nine months after the European Commission used its power to launch the same process against Poland. 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.

"The truth is that the verdict has already been written", Orban said.

Critics say that Hungary's electoral system is disproportionate; media freedoms and judicial independence are dwindling; asylum-seekers and refugees are mistreated and there are limits placed on non-governmental organizations.

"Hungary is going to be condemned (by this motion) because the Hungarian people have decided that their country is not going to be a country of migrants", Orban said, drawing applause from the eurosceptic, far-right lawmakers in the assembly.

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Orban has said the mostly Muslim refugees pose an existential threat to Europe's Christian civilisation.

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).

He has also been accused of waging a state-backed anti-Semitic campaign against the Jewish businessman George Soros.

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

However, a unanimous vote is required to suspend Hungary's voting rights and launch sanctions - a move that is likely to be blocked by Poland.

It is the first time in EU history that the European Parliament had initiated and approved such a motion, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass and was approved by 69.4 percent of the lawmakers.

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French President Emmanuel Macron, an outspoken defender of European Union values, has urged the EPP to clarify its stance, saying it could not back both Merkel and Orban at the same time.

Italy's anti-imigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, whose League party has six lawmakers in the European body, said separately: "We will vote in defence of Orban". "The start of a dialogue based on Article 7.1 could be needed", Manfred Weber told the chamber on Tuesday.

Kovacs also suggested that the alliance with Fidesz boosts the EPP's appeal to European voters.

Dubbed so-called "nuclear option", article 7 of the European Union treaty is a mechanism for the European Union to steer wayward members back toward the values on which the world's largest trading bloc were founded, including respect for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

The vote in Strasbourg on Wednesday presented a resolution on the violation of the rule of law, human rights and various freedoms Budapest. The European Parliament voted to censure Orban's government for its repeated attacks on minorities, dissenters and journalists, and the independence of the judiciary.

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