The European Parliament (EP) is preparing for a ‘frontal attack’ on Viktor Orbán, as reported by the Brussels-based POLITICO in its Monday morning newsletter. The EU affairs portal details the campaign against the Hungarian Prime Minister, indicating that 120 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have recently endorsed a petition initiated by Petri Sarvamaa, a Finnish politician known for his anti-Hungarian stance. The petition aims to deprive Hungary of its voting rights in European decision-making. The EU could enact this by pursuing the Article 7 procedure.
In a letter directed to EP President Roberta Metsola, MEPs outline two primary reasons they deem the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights inevitable. Firstly, they refer to the persistently reiterated accusations from liberal circles that the rule of law is endangered in Hungary.
The MEPs then cite Viktor Orbán’s ’controversial role’ at the EU summit in December,
where he obstructed the disbursement of €50 billion in EU financial aid to Ukraine.
Hungary has been under Article 7 proceedings since 2018 and is presently in the initial phase of the process. This stage acknowledges a ’clear risk of a serious breach’ of EU principles, compelling the accused country to provide regular updates on the situation through scheduled hearings.
The 120 MEPs who signed the letter are now advocating for the initiation of a second phase, wherein EU leaders can collectively ascertain the existence of a 'serious and persistent' breach of fundamental values.
This determination necessitates a proposal presented by either one-third of member states or by the European Commission, and it also requires the consent of the Parliament.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament will conduct a hearing with the presence of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. During this session, the leaders will be required to address why the Commission has disbursed a portion of the frozen EU funds to Hungary, despite Brussels' evaluation indicating a continuing risk of the funds being misused.
Following the hearing, a vote on a resolution regarding Hungary is scheduled for Thursday, and the exact wording of the resolution is currently undisclosed. POLITICO has reported, however, that the text might encompass a call for member states to escalate actions against Hungary to the subsequent stage.
POLITICO also acknowledges that there is a very slim chance that Hungary will ultimately lose its voting rights.
EU leaders are currently working diligently to present Viktor Orbán with an alternative solution regarding support for Ukraine at the upcoming EU summit, aiming for an outcome that the Hungarian leader can accept.
The Brussels-based news site recently published an article citing EU sources indicating that Hungary might reconsider its veto on the aid to Ukraine. However, this reconsideration would only occur if the funding is not pre-agreed for four years but rather subject to annual renegotiation and unanimous decision by EU leaders each year. POLITICO interprets this as an opportunity for Viktor Orbán to potentially exert continued influence on or 'blackmail' Brussels in the coming years.
In response to the European Parliament's new initiative against Hungary, former Justice Minister Judit Varga told POLITICO: ’Europe replaced democracy with hypocrisy, and dialogue was replaced by a political witch hunt and blackmailing with European funds.’ Varga, who is expected to lead Fidesz's list for the European Parliament elections in June, asserted that most member states are growing weary of the Article 7 procedure, which she opined is ‘a painful burden’ for the diplomats of EU member states.