European Union lawmakers voted on Wednesday in favor of initiating measures [materials] against the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban [official website] for allegedly breaching the values upon which the European Union was founded.
Theoretically, the EP vote could end with Hungary losing its European Union voting rights - but both Poland and the Czech Republic vowed on Thursday to veto such a move, saying it would increase voters' dissatisfaction with Europe.
The vote against Hungary is symbolic of the growing tug-of-war in Europe between humanitarian values and increasingly nationalistic ones.
12, 2018European lawmakers voted by a huge margin on Wednesday to launch a punishment plan against Hungary for potentially breaching democratic norms, a measure never previously initiated by the European Parliament.The vote became handiest step one against doable sanctions. Needing a two-thirds majority to pass, it was approved by 69.4 percent of the lawmakers.
Orban received a rebuke even from fellow members of the European People's Party (EPP), whose support he had counted on.
When asked in a television show on Wednesday evening how Hungary would respond to concerns raised by the Members of European Parliament over CEU, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the university still "expects privileges", which would be hard for the country's legislators "to accept".
The vote was based on a report that voiced concerns about judicial independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of minorities and refugees. He also decried the omission of abstentions in the final tally which helped attain the needed majority in the vote.
Vaatz said he "deeply regretted" the EP's decision to approve the report criticising the state of the rule of law in Hungary, as well as the fact that a number of MEPs from his own party "took part in the operation to punish Hungary".More news: Latest Update on Hurricane Helene, Tropical Storm Isaac, Gulf Depression
"Viktor Orban's government has been leading the charge against European values by silencing independent media, replacing critical judges, and putting academia on a leash", Sargentini said.
"You think that you know the needs of the Hungarian people better than the Hungarian people themselves".
The Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union, or TEU - which established the bloc in 1992 - seeks to protect the EU values defined in Article 2.
"This decision was born through fraud and in a way that goes directly against and contradicts the provisions of European contracts", Szijjarto said. "MEPs across the political spectrum have taken a historic stand in defending the EU's democratic values and the rights of its citizens".
Mr Orban has also expressed his desire to remain within the EPP, which he said was "deeply divided" on the issue of migration.
Much of Orban's conservative European People's Party in the European Parliament which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats voted in favour of the motion to sanction Hungary over the rule of law.
In a brief speech to parliament on Tuesday, Orban vowed that Hungary would resist any attempt to "blackmail" it into softening its anti-migrant stance, which he charged was the motive behind the vote.