EU parliament opens punitive action against Hungary for damaging democracy

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The right to the european Parliament, meeting within the EPP group, is "facing its ambiguities", said Wednesday, Marine Le Pen on the day of a vote in the european Parliament on a procedure for the Hungary of Viktor Orban, accused of violating EU values.

If the resolution is adopted, it will be the first time that the European Parliament takes the initiative for such a procedure, though it has backed an Article 7 action taken against Poland, triggered in December 2017 by the European Commission.

But Judith Sargentini, who is spearheading the vote on whether to take action against Hungary, told fellow MEPs that the time had come for them to make an "important choice" after eight years under Orban.

If approved, the motion would go to the EU's national leaders, theoretically opening the way for sanctions such as a suspension of Hungary's voting rights in the bloc.

"Hungary shall not bow to blackmail", said Orban, whose right-wing Fidesz party was re-elected with a landslide majority last April.

The Commission has preferred to pressure Budapest through standard legal powers, but the head of the European Union executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, also an EPP member, said he would have voted for the move if he were a lawmaker.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, echoing Orban's longtime position, called the result "petty revenge" against Hungary for its tough anti-migration policies.

Orban has faced worldwide condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, violations of press freedoms, undermining the judiciary, Islamophobia and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

"We don't see these people as Muslim refugees. We should not let Europe slide back to the past". "It is up to the European leaders to take their responsibility and stop watching from the sidelines as the rule of law is destroyed in Hungary, ' she is quoted as saying by the BBC".

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Before the vote, Prime Minister Viktor Orban called the proceedings on the Article 7 an "insult" to his nation, accusing the "pro-migrant majority" of targeting Hungary for its reluctance to become a "country of migrants".

"We are not going to leave the EPP", Orban said.

Poland's ally Hungary has pledged to veto any move to impose such penalties on Warsaw, which would effectively block the measure.

Orban said that political sanctions being considered against Hungary would be the first time in the European Union that "a community condemns its own border guards".

From Croatia, four EPP MEPs, Ivana Maletic, Dubravka Suica, Zeljana Zovko and Marijana Petir, plus a Conservative, Ruza Tomasic, voted against triggering Article 7.

The vote, however, has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU. He has also expressed his desire to remain within the EPP, which he said was "deeply divided" on the issue of migration.

Recent developments in Hungary have led to a serious deterioration in the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights which is testing the EU's ability to defend its founding values, the report found.

The EPP decided on Tuesday evening that its lawmakers would vote freely without a unified stance from the whole group.

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