MEPs back sanctions against Viktor Orban's Hungary over migrant policy

London's National can keep disputed Matisse                         Read more

London's National can keep disputed Matisse Read more

"The European Parliament vote should serve as a wake-up call to EU institutions and national governments that press freedom is a fundamental democratic value that needs to be vigorously defended and promoted throughout the 28 member states, starting with Hungary". This was the second time the EP has compiled a report on Hungary's backsliding on democracy. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, launched Article 7 proceedings against Poland previous year over its judicial reforms.

Despite the criticism, Orban said he was "readying to support the EPP" in next year's European Parliament elections.

In response to the motion being passed, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the vote "petty revenge" against Hungary for its tough anti-migration policies.

But Orban, who travelled to Strasbourg to defend his government from a move to suspend its European Union voting rights, said the honour of his country had been insulted.

MEPs will vote on Wednesday on whether to launch a procedure that could lead to unprecedented political sanctions against Hungary, and deepen the continental divide between centrist pro-European parties and populist anti-migrant forces.

"This is an invalid report, that has no legal effect", Szajer said. The 12 chapters of the report condemn the disintegration of the rule-governed state and the Socialists agree with its findings concerning the administration of justice, constitutionality, and social affairs, the faction leader of the party told Hungarian media.

Asked about his expectations about the result of Wednesday's vote on the report, Orban said he was sure it would gather the two-thirds support needed for approval and then attempts would be made to expel Fidesz from the EPP.

Europe's future hangs in balance at the vote, said Michael Ignatieff, head of embattled private university CEU, founded by George Soros.

Sarghentini told journalists she relied on the parliament's legal service assessment and did not have a preference with regards to abstentions. "This report does not give due respect to Hungarians", he added.

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The majority was made possible by a large number of ostensible allies of Orban also voting in favour of the censure procedure.

Some members of the European People's Party bloc - which Hungarian PM Viktor Orban's Fidesz movement belongs to - voted against their ally in Budapest.

The Commission has repeatedly clashed with Orban's government, especially since Budapest refused to admit asylum seekers under an European Union scheme launched at the height of the migration crisis in 2015.

But fellow EPP MEPs reached a breaking point on Tuesday (11 September) after Orban failed to show any willingness to compromise on the key issues on academic freedom and the freedom of civil society.

Orban said it was a case of his political opponents trying to silence those who did not agree with them.

Its findings have been backed by the European Commission.

Hungary's foreign minister has fired back at the European Union parliament decision to trigger Article 7, which can lead to sanctions against Budapest over its immigration policies, branding it the "petty revenge" of pro-migrant politicians.

Hungary adopted legislation in July that further restricts asylum claims and criminalizes "supporting and facilitating illegal immigration".

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