Orban to face EU lawmakers over rule of law debate

Hungarian PM will appear in person in the European Parliament during a crucial vote regarding his country

Photo: EPA Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is expected to participate in person in the European Parliament on 11 September during a crucial vote on the rule of law in his country.

Lawmakers will be voting on a report prepared by Green MEP Judith Sargentini that found Hungary has systemic problems with the rule of law. The draft resolution raises concerns about freedom of association and expression, the functioning of the constitutional system, and the rights of refugees, Roma, and Jews.

If passed, the resolution would call on the European Council “to determine, pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded", which could ultimately strip the country of EU voting rights. It was already approved by the European Parliament's civil liberties committee in June.  

The EU has threatened triggering Article 7 before, too, over Orban's push to restructure Hungary's media, government and justice system. One particular bone of contention has been PM's refusal to implement a European Court of Justice decision demanding it accept refugees under a bloc-wide quota resettlement system.

Article 7 is a mechanism of the Lisbon Treaty that opens a path for sanctions against a member state and a temporary loss of EU Council voting rights. It is triggered when a member state violates European values and the rule of law. It was invoked for the first time last year against Hungary's ally Poland.

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