MEPs vote to take action against Hungary

EU Parliament to Debate Possible Sanctions Against Hungary

Speaking in front of the assembly on Tuesday, Prime Minister Orban said he would not bow to the EU's "blackmail" but stick to his policies.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, who won re-election in April, has described the country under his leadership as an "illiberal democracy".

"In today's historic vote, the European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU".

"The truth is that the verdict has already been written", Orban said.

"I reject that the European Parliament's forces supporting immigration and migrants threaten, blackmail and with untrue accusations defame Hungary and the Hungarian people", he said during a feisty speech.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive body, launched Article 7 proceedings against Poland over an alleged erosion of judicial independence late previous year.

MEPs are expected to vote Wednesday on whether to ask the Council to trigger an Article 7 process due to the "clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded".

Orban might have lost some key allies as EPP lawmakers said their caucus meeting showed many would vote in favor of Article 7.

Orban has faced global 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. But his failure to offer any compromise cost him support within the EPP, party officials said.

The EPP membership has muted European Union reaction to Orban's policies over the years and the big question mark is how the group's 217 members will act when the vote is held on Wednesday.

With Britain scheduled to leave the bloc altogether in March and Europeans voting in European Parliament elections in May, the rows over Hungary and Poland highlight tensions between nationalist and federalist camps.

Aside from its anti-immigrant stance, Orban's government is also accused of silencing independent media and academia, removing independent judges, cracking down on organisations helping homeless people, migrants or disadvantaged groups, such as Roma, and condoning government corruption.

"The commission will not hesitate to take further action if necessary".

"Do you really believe that any country.can survive on its own, without help, without the solidarity and cooperation of other countries?", he told the lawmakers.

For Marine Le Pen, the european Union's "attack on democracy, attack the expressed will of the voters in hungary, which elected Mr Orban extremely wide".

One of the biggest sticking points, however, is the response to the European migrant crisis by the Hungarian government, which has refused to participate in an EU-wide refugee relocation scheme. "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". "Fundamental values have to be protected".

"We are fighting for an EP, European Commission and EPP in which anti-migration politicians are in the majority", Szijjarto said. "We are staying and we are fighting".

Szijjarto said Hungary was considering legal options to appeal the result because of the way the vote was tallied. "The decision has been made", Orban said.

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