Today, the European Parliament decided to support the report on the situation in Hungary. This report, drafted by Mrs. Sargentini (Greens/EFA, Netherlands) was backed by 448 members. More than two-third of MEPs voted in favour of the report (197 against, 49 abstentions), although several groups refused to take actions against Viktor Orban’s government.

The European Civic Forum is pleased to see that members of the European Parliament stood up for fundamental rights, Rule of Law and democracy. Days before the vote, we have actively called upon MEPs to support the vote. The ECF followed the adoption from an early stage and welcomes this move by the Parliament. Beyond the points mentioned here, the Parliament also had concerns about other issues. Among others, freedom of expression, corruption and conflicts of interest, but also freedom of association and rights of minorities and migrants were longly documented in Mrs. Sargentini’s report.

The Council now in charge of pursuing the dialogue with Hungarian authorities

EU member states will now have to take over the case against Hungary and open talks with the government. They may, acting by a majority of four fifths, determine the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach of the EU values in Hungary. The Council would first have to hear the views of the Hungarian authorities, and Parliament would need to give consent. The EU member states may also choose to address recommendations to Hungary to counter the risk.

At a later stage, the European Council may determine, by unanimity and with the Parliament’s consent, the existence in Hungary of a serious and persistent breach of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. This could eventually lead to sanctions, such as the suspension of the voting rights in the Council.