Tuesday

21st May 2019

Liberal MEPs refuse to back down on Orban

  • Orban has demised previous EP resolutions as anti-Hungarian politicking (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Liberal MEPs will try to revive plans to stress-test Hungary’s democratic standards, after being voted down, including by socialist deputies, on Monday.

“We don’t want to give up so easily,” Cecilia Wikstroem, Swedish liberal MEP, told EUobserver on Wednesday (7 October).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She said her Alde group, at its internal meeting, decided to again call on the civil liberties committee to trigger the so-called Article 7 procedure against Hungary.

She added the new vote could take place next week.

The EU treaty’s Article 7 allows the European Parliament, the European Commission, or one third or more of member states to launch a commission enquiry on whether a member state is in “serious and persistent breach” of EU values.

The procedure could, in its final stage, lead to EU Council voting sanctions.

The Alde campaign comes amid a crackdown on free speech, judicial independence, and refugee rights under Hungary’s right-wing PM, Viktor Orban.

But the centre-left S&D group, in a preparatory EP meeting on Monday, sided with Orban’s EPP group to quash the proposal, leaving the liberals fuming.

The EPP and socialists instead supported an S&D idea, which notes the EP, in June, already asked the commission to look into Hungary, and which demands a response.

The idea is to lead to an oral question to the commission at the end of October.

Love lost

But Alde’s Wikstroem ridiculed the centre-left position.

“We have asked the commission to do this several times, and when they don’t come back to us, it means they have done nothing. This just a way to postpone the issue,” she said.

“What is happening in Hungary is completely unheard of in Europe”.

She cited a new law that allows police to enter people’s homes without a warrant to hunt for irregular migrants.

“We haven’t seen such things since the second world war”, she said, calling the S&D-EPP decision “a slap in the face for everyone who thinks something is wrong with Hungarian democracy, who believes in the rule of law”.

Birgit Sippel, a German MEP and the S&D’s civil liberties coordinator, told EUobserver the group agrees with Alde in principle, but said the Liberals have failed to make their case.

“It is a very sensitive issue and you need a majority in the parliament for a strong political action. You have to prepare it very well, and that hasn’t happened”, she said, adding: “If you don’t have a majority, Orban will laugh at this.”

Sippel said that when the commission answers the EP’s question, MEPs can come back to the issue.

“Then we have meat in our hands,” she said, referring to political ammunition for the launch of Article 7.

Since Orban took power in 2010, the EP adopted four resolutions that expressed concern over Hungary - all of which supported by both socialists and liberals.

But Orban’s ruling Fidesz party has dismissed them as a political attack on Hungarian people.

Hungary boosts border control, holds army exercise

While the number of migrants arriving in Hungary increases by the day, the army holds an exercise to strengthen border control, and the country gets ready to implement controversial new legislation to keep migrants out.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment
  2. 80% of Erasmus students find job within three months
  3. September elections in Austria after Strache scandal
  4. Swiss voters approve tighter gun controls in line with EU
  5. Report: May's fourth Brexit vote a 'retread' of old ideas
  6. Turkey insists on right to drill for oil off Cyprus coast
  7. Anti-Salvini banners become new trend in Italy
  8. EU flies rainbow flag on anti-homophobia day

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us