EU Parliament Accuses Hungary of Threatening European Values
An EU report sees the values of Europeans threatened in Hungary.
For Manfred Weber, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is increasingly becoming a burden. The Group leader of the Conservative European People’s Party (EPP) faces the difficult question of how he should swear his people to the vote this Wednesday in the European Parliament, which is about the state of democracy in Hungary. MEPs in Strasbourg want to vote on whether to initiate a so-called Article 7 case against Hungary, which could theoretically lead to the withdrawal of EU voting rights for the member state. Whether the EPP faction joins in is a delicate question for the CSU man Weber – because even Orban’s governing party Fidesz belongs to the European People’s Party.
Before the vote, Weber made it clear that he does not want to stand behind Orban without reservation. European values must be defended in all party families, Weber said on Tuesday in a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Amongst other things, Weber von Orban expects movement to deal with non-governmental organizations that help refugees. Last June, Fidesz passed a law in the Hungarian parliament that allows the prosecution of refugee workers. In addition, Weber believes critically that Orban continues to threaten the closure of the Central European University of Budapest (CEU), which was founded with US billionaire George Soros.
“I know that you have already formed your opinion,” Orban said in the European Parliament in view of the upcoming vote on the report of the Dutch Greens MEP Judith Sargentini, which could trigger the Article 7 proceedings. The report violated “the honor of Hungary and the Hungarian people,” rumbled Orban. According to him, Hungary was “a member of the European Christian family for 1000 years”. In fact, the discussion about the withdrawal of EU voting rights is about repudiating Hungary for its attitude in migration policy. Hungary has “stopped hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants” and will continue to defend its borders, Orban said.
Previously, the vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, complained that the fundamental rights of the Roma in particular and the independence of the judicial system in Hungary were threatened. The space for civil society in Hungary is shrinking, he criticized.
Report: “Systemic threat” to EU values
The report by the Dutch woman Sargentini states, among other things, that the development in Hungary constitutes a “systemic threat” to the values of the EU. The introduction of an Article 7 procedure for the withdrawal of voting rights is justified in the report, among other things, by the overstretched action of Hungarian border guards against refugees as well as restrictions on the freedom of the press and opinion. For the Article 7 procedure to start, a two-thirds majority of MEPs is needed. The next steps will be decided by the EU Member States in the event of approval.
The report of the Dutch Sargentini is conclusive, said the European political spokeswoman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Franziska Brantner, the Tagesspiegel. “I find it absolutely incomprehensible that the EPP keeps its protective hand over Orban,” she continued. The European People’s Party must join the call for a procedure for the withdrawal of voting rights.
Similarly expressed the chairman of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, Udo Bullmann (SPD). “For years, Viktor Orban has been undermining democracy and the rule of law in Hungary and trampling on European values,” he said. “The European Parliament must set a clear signal and put a stop to this anti-democratic activity – and the conservative EPP with the CDU and CSU must finally show their colors,” he demanded.
The EPP Group wants to discuss Tuesday evening on their voting behavior. In the past, dealing with Orban had led to differences within the group. While MEPs from the Nordic countries and the Benelux countries wanted a more critical approach to Fidesz or even their expulsion from the EPP Group, such demands met with resistance from their colleagues in Croatia, Spain and Italy.
Juncker gives speech on the situation of the EU
Before the European Parliament votes on Hungary, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker wants to hold his annual speech on Wednesday morning for the last time before the European elections on the state of the EU. It is expected that Juncker will deal, among other things, with the Pan-European advance of populists and EU refugee policy. At the same time, the European Commission plans to publish a bill proposing a strengthening of the EU border agency Frontex.
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