Friday

21st Jan 2022

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban is set to host the leader of the European Parliament's centre-right political group in Budapest on Tuesday (12 March).

The meeting with group chair Manfred Weber follows weeks of speculation on the future of Orban's Fidesz nationalist party within the centre-right EPP.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Some dozen Fidesz MEPs belong to the EPP, the European Parliament's largest political group.

But Orban's anti-migration campaign and nation-wide poster ad attacks against philanthropist George Soros and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker have upped the pressure on Weber to boot out Fidesz from the political group ahead of the European elections in May.

The political rift appears to have only widened after Weber's demand last week for an apology from Orban over the anti-EU rhetoric remains unanswered.

Hungary's problems run deep amid a backsliding of political rights, the lowest since 1989, and a European Parliament that last September demanded Budapest be censured over the "clear risk" of breaching EU values.

The commission last month launched a counter-attack against Orban's anti-migration campaign, which the chief commission spokesman described as "ludicrous conspiracy theory".

Weber's apparent reluctance to move against Orban has also cast a shadow over his campaign to become the next European commission president.

Earlier this month, Weber said Orban must reverse his decision to expel the Central European University (CEU) from Budapest in order to remain in the EPP.

He also told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag over the weekend that Orban wants to remain in the EPP.

"He knows that in order to do so, he has to show that he accepts our common values and show solidarity with us in the campaign," he said.

Tuesday's encounter is billed as a last-ditch effort for reconciliation between the two sides ahead of 20 March meeting where a final decision is set to be made on the future relationship.

But in a radio interview last week, Orban appeared defiant, saying there will be no compromise from Hungary against migration and on "the protection of Christian culture".

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.

EP triggers sanctions procedure, Hungary calls 'fraud'

The parliament launched a sanctions procedure against Hungary in an unprecedented vote that required a two-thirds majority from MEPs. Hungary is calling the vote a "fraud" and a "petty revenge" for its hardline migration policy.

Orban says 'sorry', EPP says 'not enough'

As the European People's Party braces itself to decide next week whether to expel its Hungarian member, prime minister Viktor Orban says sorry for calling his critics "useful idiots".

Opinion

Manfred Weber and the art of passive resistance

Hungary's government dismantled rule of law institutions and democratic guarantees in broad daylight. This could have been perfectly addressed by Weber's European People's Party years ago - but it dithered.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Latest News

  1. Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules
  2. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  3. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  4. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  5. Macron promises strong EU borders
  6. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  7. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  8. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us