Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

EPP hits threshold to trigger Orban expulsion probe

  • Viktor Orban speaking from the podium on stage at the EPP's congress in Helsinki last November. He warned the group 'should respect winners' (Photo: European People's Party - Flickr)

A total of at least seven national centre-right parties had by Friday (1 March) called for the expulsion or suspension of their fellow member, Hungary's Fidesz - thereby passing the threshold for triggering an internal procedure to examine prime minister Viktor Orban's ruling party's place in Europe's largest political alliance.

Sweden's Christian Democrats and the Moderate party have sent letters to the president of the European People's Party (EPP), Frane's Joseph Daul, calling for the expulsion of Orban's Fidesz.

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

"The EPP family cannot include members that do not fully respect the fundamental principles of a liberal democracy," Peter Kullgren, the secretary general of the Christian Democrats said in a letter addressed to Daul, dated 27 February, and seen by EUobserver.

On Friday, Petteri Orpo, the leader of Finland's National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), also sent a letter to Daul saying the EPP should expel Fidesz.

"Fidesz has gone too far. There are reasonable, serious grounds to conclude that Fidesz is in breach of EPP values and principles," Orpo said in a statement.

Orpo in his letter referred to an EPP resolution on protecting EU values adopted last November in Helsinki, which he said Fidesz breached.

"It [Fidesz] has crossed red lines and it has not kept the commitments that have been jointly agreed," Finland's finance minister wrote in the letter.

Earlier in the week three parties signed a letter to Daul asking for Fidesz's expulsion: the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V), the Walloon Humanist Democratic Centre (cdH) and Luxembourg's Christian Social People's Party (CSV).

Portugal's CDS-People's Party, also said it wrote to Daul to expel or suspend Fidesz.

The Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA) said on Thursday they supported an open discussion about Fidesz's place, as "informal discussions with Fidesz no longer have the desired effect", party chairman Rutger Ploum said in a statement.

Options on the table

According to internal rules, at least seven parties from five member states have to initiate the procedure to expel or suspend a member party.

This wave of letters was promoted by the latest campaign by Hungary's Fidesz-led government accusing the EU of pushing migration plans that threaten the security of Hungary.

While the EPP has been riven by the increasingly-authoritarian Orban and his Fidesz for several years, the last straw seems to have been that the latest campaign which attacks EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (a fellow EPP member) personally, and also spreads disinformation about EU policies.

Once all the letters Daul expects are received, the French leader of the EPP will reach out to the presidency of the party to decide on whether to put the issue on the agenda of the meeting of the party's political assembly on 20 March.

The EPP presidency includes Juncker, EU Council president Donald Tusk (an Orban critic), commissioner Marianne Thyssen, who hails from the Flemish party calling for the expulsion, and commission vice-president Jyrki Katainen, whose Finnish party has also called for Fidesz to be kicked out.

The presidency however also includes supporters, or Fidesz-friendly figures, such as Fidesz MEP Kinga Gal, and European Parliament president Antonio Tajani - whose Forza Italia party is a strong ally of Orban's, despite the latter's recent openings to the rival Matteo Salvini of the League.

Depending on what is asked by the parties and decided by the presidency, there could be further discussions at the next assembly meeting on 9 April - or parties could push for a vote.

The EPP's lead candidate for the EU commission presidency, and EPP group leader in the parliament, Germany's Manfred Weber, told German weekly Der Spiegel on Friday that "all options are on the table".

"We are currently discussing this within the EPP," he said, adding: "Viktor Orban has badly damaged the EPP with his comments and poster campaign, so I expect him to apologise and stop these actions".

EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news

The European Commission has branded the latest campaign by the Hungarian government as 'fake news', after Orban's government accused Juncker of pressing ahead with migration proposals that threaten the country's security.

EPP poised to pick lead candidate, amid struggle over Orban

The EU's largest political family has gathered in Helsinki to chose its lead candidate for the European election next May. They need to take on populists - but are struggling to deal with the 'enfant terrible' within their own ranks.

Agenda

Orban's EPP place and summertime back This WEEK

The EPP continues to struggle to deal with Orban's Fidesz party, while the Hungarian PM's favourite topic - migration - will be back on home affairs ministers' agenda. And the UK is set to leave the EU this month.

Orban rejects Weber's plea to stop anti-EU posters

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has pledged to put up new anti-migrant posters - despite hopes in his centre-right EU family that he might "apologise and put an end" to the campaign.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us