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A draft European Parliament report called on the assembly to trigger proceedings against Hungary that could ultimately lead to EU sanctions for failing to uphold the bloc’s core values, reported Politico (Germany).
The report’s publication comes just after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán secured a third consecutive term with a landslide election win on Sunday. The text, drafted by Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini, outlines concerns about the independence of the judiciary, corruption, freedom of expression, the rights of Roma and Jewish minorities and refugees, and other issues.
Sargentini’s investigation will inform a European Parliament decision on whether to launch the so-called Article 7 process against Hungary, which could ultimately lead to Budapest losing its right to vote on EU decisions. Although that final step is unlikely — as all other EU member countries would have to vote in favor — even a decision to begin the process would damage Hungary’s international standing.
In her report, Sargentini — appointed by the Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs as the rapporteur to examine triggering Article 7 proceedings against Budapest — determined that there is a “systemic threat to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary.”
Orbán’s government has been accused by critics at home and abroad of putting Hungary on the road to autocracy and reintroducing undemocratic practices last seen under communism, such as de facto censorship in state media. The government has repeatedly dismissed such criticism as overblown and unwarranted meddling in the country’s domestic affairs.
The Hungarian government has also criticized Sargentini and the European Parliament, branding the Green MEP as a member of a network run by its liberal nemesis, Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist George Soros. Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó called her January fact-finding trip to the country “theater,” and a government spokesperson has referred to her report as the “Soros report.”
Szijjártó called her report an attack against Hungary and said the whole process was anti-democratic.
In another sign of the government’s hostile attitude toward organizations not under its control, a pro-government magazine on Thursday ran an article under the headline “The speculator’s people” that listed more than 200 employees of independent NGOs and media outlets along with a picture of Soros. Officials from those organizations branded the article a new low in a government-run campaign to smear and intimidate them.
Sargentini’s report will go to a vote in committee in June and to the full Parliament in September. If the Parliament approves her proposal, the matter would move to the European Council, made up of leaders of the EU’s member countries.
The report’s recommendations pose a potential headache for the center-right European People’s Party group, which includes Orbán’s Fidesz party in its ranks. EPP leaders have defended Orbán despite growing frustration among some members, who argue his policies go against the group’s pro-EU values.
A significant number of EPP members of the Parliament have indicated they are now prepared to trigger the Article 7 process against Hungary.
But one said Sargentini’s report may need to be amended, describing elements of the text as “irrelevant” and “partly wrong.”
“The report needs to address the political logic by which the Fidesz government has created an atmosphere of fear and hatred of everything it designates as hostile,” the MEP said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
show source https://www.politico.eu/article/viktor-orban-european-parliament-report-judith-sargentini-calls-for-sanctions-procedure-against-hungary/