ALDE: Liberals and Democrats fire a shot across President Orbán’s bows
The ALDE Group in the European Parliament has today welcomed the adoption, by a clear majority of MEPs, of a parliamentary resolution reiterating the clear risk of a serious breach of EU values under the Government of Prime Minister Orbán.
The European Parliament will now draw up a special report and schedule a vote to trigger Article 7.1 of the European Treaty, which foresees a graduated procedure of dialogue and investigation, recommendation and, if needed, ultimately sanctions.
Sophie In’t Veld MEP, First Vice-President of the ALDE Group:
“Checks and balances are essential for a healthy democracy. But during his seven years in office, Mr Orbán has systematically undermined all critical voices and opposition forces. He is guilty of interfering with academic freedom, controlling the school curriculum, gagging the media, harassing NGOs, undermining the independence of the judiciary and limiting freedom of religion. Under his watch, asylum seekers are maltreated and detained in shameful conditions, while government campaigns have fanned racism and hatred. There are recurring allegations of corruption and nepotism.
“The European Parliament has expressed its concerns repeatedly and the buck stops here. Enough is enough. He has provoked Europe to the point where he has even lost the support of his own political family”.
“It is certainly a painful step, and we had truly hoped we could avoid this. But for seven years Mr Orbán has shown nothing but growing contempt of the Union that his country is a member of. All attempts to settle matters with dialogue have failed. We need to make it very clear to all EU members and the outside world, that the EU will not tolerate the systematic undermining of the democratic rule of law.“
“We now urge the European Commission and EU Member States to finally put this matter on the agenda, and to stop turning a blind eye. “
Louis Michel MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs said;
“For seven years, Viktor Orban has pursued his project to build an “illiberal” society, by disrespecting the values enshrined in the Treaties, for which we fight every day in the European Parliament. For years now, our group has been calling for an appropriate response from the European Union to the excessive clampdowns of the Hungarian authorities. I am pleased that our assembly has finally been able to position itself strongly, in order to be able to demand that Article 7 is triggered, to end the impunity of Viktor Orbán”
“Today Parliament has voted for the very first time to use Article 7, the instrument that was created in the aftermath of the spontaneous boycott of Austria in 2000, when right-wing extremist Haider entered government. I was one of the driving forces behind that action. I am pleased to see that the EU is losing its reticence and increasingly coming to the defence of Art 2 of the Treaties, which lay down the values of the European Union”.
Guy Verhofstadt, President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament:
“I strongly welcome the adoption of this resolution today. Respect for the rule of law is a fundamental doctrine which holds EU Member States together, but this has been eroded in Hungary for several years now. The European Parliament has taken its responsibility and will now prepare the launch of the procedure under Art 7 of the Treaty.”
“Today we have demanded the Hungarian Government to end their harassment of the Central European University in Budapest and to make a public commitment that the university can remain in Budapest as a free institution.”