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European Parliament calls for action on rights and democracy in Hungary
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The European Parliament yesterday (17 May) adopted a resolution condemning "a serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights over the past few years" in Hungary, and calling for the start of the Article 7(1) procedure, which can end in the suspension of the EU voting rights of a state in breach of the EU's fundamental values.

The Parliament's resolution (pdf) - adopted with 393 MEPs in favour, 221 against, 64 abstentions and 72 non-voters - contrasts with the Commission's decision yesterday simply to repeat its actions of 18 months ago by launching the first step of infringement proceedings against Hungary's asylum laws.

The resolution highlights:

"a serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights over the past few years, inter alia, freedom of expression, academic freedom, the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, freedom of assembly and association, restrictions and obstructions to the activities of civil society organisations, the right to equal treatment, the rights of people belonging to minorities, including Roma, Jews and LGBTI people, social rights, the functioning of the constitutional system, the independence of the judiciary and of other institutions and many worrying allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest, which, taken together, could represent an emerging systemic threat to the rule of law in this Member State; believes that Hungary is a test for the EU to prove its capacity and willingness to react to threats and breaches of its own founding values by a Member State; notes with concern that developments in some other Member States show worrying signs of similar undermining of the rule of law as in Hungary."

It concludes that the Parliament:

"Believes that the current situation in Hungary represents a clear risk of a serious breach of the values referred to in Article 2 of the TEU and warrants the launch of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure."

It appears (VoteWatch Europe, link) that there are only two parties in power in the EU that back Orban's policies:

"The leader of the far-right Italian Northern League tabled an amendment stating the full support for the actions of the Hungarian government. In reaction, an overwhelming majority of MEPs clearly rejected this approach. Importantly, the votes on this statement allowed us to spot that two parties in government do back Budapest’s policies: the Members of the Polish Law and Justice, currently in government in Warsaw, and most (though not all) of the Members of the Croatian Democratic Union, in power in Zagreb, did endorse the statement that granted full support to Orban. If the views of these MEPs are mirrored by their party colleagues at national level (which seems likely), these countries appear inclined to oppose punitive measures against Fidesz’s policies in the Council."


"less than half of the parliamentarians of the European political family that FIDESZ is part of, the Christian-Democrat EPP, supported the final report. The EPP politicians felt that the demands of the liberal-leftist coalition go too far too quickly."

Article 7

Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty says:

1. On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure.

The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.

2. The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.

3. Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.

The obligations of the Member State in question under the Treaties shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.

4. The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.

5. The voting arrangements applying to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council for the purposes of this Article are laid down in Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


European Parliament: Fundamental rights in Hungary: MEPs call for triggering Article 7 (press release, pdf)

European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the situation
in Hungary (2017/2656(RSP))

See also

European Parliament chastises Hungary on rights, eyes sanctions process (Reuters, link)

EU Parliament demands action on Hungary human rights (Al Jazeera, link)

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