European Union parliament votes to punish Hungary for backsliding on democracy

European Union parliament votes to punish Hungary for backsliding on democracy

European Union parliament votes to punish Hungary for backsliding on democracy

Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, a leading liberal, said Hungary would never have been allowed to join the European Union in 2004 had it been back then as it has now become under Orban.

When asked in a television show on Wednesday evening how Hungary would respond to concerns raised by the Members of European Parliament over CEU, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the university still "expects privileges", which would be hard for the country's legislators "to accept".

Despite the vote's symbolism, however, it is probably too late for Orban's critics to succeed in blocking Hungary's European Union voting rights or win major concessions from him.

"Poland will vote against any possible sanctions to be imposed on Hungary within the European institutions", the ministry claimed.

"As of now there is no timeline" for the European Council to act, she said.

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Addressing the EP on Tuesday, Orban made clear he would not abandon his hardline stance on the mostly Muslim migrants who have come to Europe since 2015.

"I have always been in favour of building bridges and I want to continue to do so but yesterday I didn't see any readiness from the Hungarian PM to make a move towards his European Union partners and address our concerns", he said on Twitter. They strongly deny it was to secure Hungary's support in the Brexit process or out of admiration for the country's leader.

It added: "Each EU Member State has a sovereign right to carry out the internal reforms that it considers appropriate".

"A different parliament and a different future is needed", he said, and predicted that next May's European Parliament election will see the end of what he called the "pro-immigration majority" in the assembly. "MEPs across the political spectrum have taken a historic stand in defending the EU's democratic values and the rights of its citizens".

The European Commission initiated similar proceedings against Warsaw in December and three months later the Hungarian parliament adopted a resolution supporting Warsaw in its fight against the bloc, saying the commission does not have "the right to meddle" in the domestic affairs of member states and that it was "unjustified" in initiating Article 7 proceedings. The EU country concerned does not take part in either vote. "They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation", she said.

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"Viktor Orban's government has been leading the charge against European values by silencing independent media, replacing critical judges, and putting academia on a leash", Sargentini said.

"The agreement of CEU with another USA university does not mean that there is a school there", Szijjarto said, referring to a controversial amendment made in the education law a year ago, which required the university to also offer courses in the United States.

Among the concerns raised at the European Parliament was the Hungarian government's actions against CEU.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said that he would have voted for the measure if he was an MEP.

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