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27th Mar 2023

EPP to keep Orban's Fidesz suspension

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) will keep Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party suspended, EPP president Donald Tusk announced to a meeting of MEPs on Wednesday (29 January).

The EPP's political assembly will meet next Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, where the issue of kicking Fidesz out of the party was expected to be discussed.

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Tusk told EPP MEPs however that he will not propose a vote, or even a discussion on Fidesz, several sources confirmed to EUobserver.

Tusk said he would continue the suspension, and at the same time vowed not to compromise on the party's values.

Orban's ruling Fidesz has been suspended from Europe's largest political alliance since last March, after a damning European Parliament report on Hungary's backsliding on democracy and rule of law, and the Budapest government's continued attack on the EU and then commission president, fellow EPP member, Jean-Claude Juncker.

A committee of 'wise men' - former EU council president Herman Van Rompuy, former EP president Hans-Gert Pöttering and former Austrian prime minister Wolfgang Schüssel - has been tasked to come up with an answer on how to deal with Fidesz.

Tusk told MEPs that the committee agreed that there was insufficient progress in Budapest.

Yet the EPP group is still divided on how to address the issue, and there was not an immediate decisive majority one way or the other, a source said.

The party has been struggling with how to deal with Orban, who regularly challenges EU rules and values, and has already openly flirted with far-right parties - in case the EPP decides to exclude Fidesz.

More liberal-minded EPP member parties, mainly from Nordic and the Benelux countries, plus the Polish Civic Platform, have been critical of Fidesz, while the French, Spanish and other eastern European members have been supportive - with Germans in the middle.

Tusk will report back to the EPP political assembly early next week, but he did not lay out the next steps.

Several MEPs stressed that there has to be a conclusion to resolve this issue, which has hurt the EPP and member parties.

Tusk himself expected a different outcome, one source said.

Tusk, a Polish former EU council chief, last November drew a very clear line between his vision of the EPP and Orban, at the speech of the party's congress in Zagreb.

"Under no circumstances can we give away the sphere of security and order to political populists, manipulators and autocrats, who lead people to believe that freedom cannot be reconciled with security. That protecting our borders and territory cannot be reconciled with liberal democracy, and an effective governance with the rule of law," Tusk said.

He added the this was the essence of the internal debate within EPP.

The suspension in effect means Fidesz MEPs still participate in the EPP group inside the European parliament, but that Orban cannot participate in the EPP leaders meeting ahead of EU summits.

Orban with Salvini

On the day when the EPP political assembly gathers in Brussels next week, Orban himself will participate in a conference in Rome with Italy's far-right leader Matteo Salvini.

The event, entitled "God, Honour, Nation: President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and the Freedom of Nations" will also feature the co-chair of the European Conservative and Reformist group, Polish MEP Ryszard Legutko.

Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

The outgoing president of the EU council, Donald Tusk, is set to be elected as the president of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP). Tusk will have to deal with the final decision over Hungary's ruling Fidesz.

EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party

In a compromise decision, Europe's centre-right grouping stops short of expelling Hungary's ruling party - which has been accused of rolling back democracy and the rule of law.

Orban edges closer to Salvini's anti-migrant alliance

Hungary's Orban has hinted at leaving the EPP for Italy's far-right Salvini, saying it will be difficult to remain in the centre-right political family if it allied with leftist parties after the European Parliament elections.

Hungary vote exposes EU rift on populism

MEPs will vote next week on whether to urge member states to investigate Hungary on EU values. Budapest calls it "liberal fundamentalism", with the EPP in a difficult position.

EPP kicks possible Fidesz expulsion further down line

The EU's largest political family decided to continue with the suspension of its Hungarian member, prime minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party. The centre-right group is still divided over Fidesz, and will hold a congress on its vision of the future.

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