European Union lawmakers say yes to disciplinary action against Hungary

London's National can keep disputed Matisse                         Read more

London's National can keep disputed Matisse Read more

"All my solidarity. No to sanctions and to trials of freely elected governments", read the post by Salvini, who is also Italy's Deputy Prime Minister.

More than two-thirds of MEPs backed the censure motion - the first such vote against a member state under European Union rules.

The motion passed with the required two-thirds majority of 448 MEPs backing the declaration that Hungary is at "clear risk of serious breach" of European Union core values, including judicial independence, academic freedom and freedom of expression.

If the so-called Article 7 procedure passes, it would set in motion a process that could lead to sanctions such as a suspension of Hungary's voting rights in the EU.

"The decision was made in a fraudulent way, and contrary to relevant rules in European treaties".

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, echoing Orban's longtime position, called the Wednesday's vote "petty revenge" against Hungary for its tough anti-migration policies.

"Today's vote gives hope of putting European values back at the centre of EU's agenda", declared Leonie Martin, Vice President of JEF Europe.

In his address, Timmermans added that the Commission "will not hesitate to take further action if necessary" should Orban refuse to comply with the Parliament's eventual ruling onceSargentini's report is reviewed by the MEPs.

"Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers", she said.

Mr Orban has for years faced worldwide condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

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The vote takes the first steps under Article 7 of the EU Treaty, known by some in Brussels as the "nuclear option", which could ultimately strip Hungary of its EU voting rights.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed, pn September 11, 2018, to defy European Union pressure to soften his hardline anti-migrant stance, condemning what he called the "blackmail" of his country. "The Hungarian people deserve better".

Hungarian leader Victor Orban has been called a "neo-fascist" who threatens to destroy the European project, in angry scenes at Europe's Parliament.

Orban said it was a case of his political opponents trying to silence those who did not agree with them.

The EU Commission, the bloc's executive body, launched Article 7 proceedings against Poland over an alleged erosion of judicial independence late a year ago.

"The big issue is how the EPP will vote, particularly Mr. Weber", said Maria Joao Rodrigues, a leading Portuguese member of the Socialists and Democrats group, which supports the motion.

Orban, leader of the Fidesz party, won reelection in April 2018 by a landslide, gaining a 2/3 majority in the Hungarian parliament after voters backed his anti-immigration platform, and entering his third consecutive term in office.

Hungary adopted legislation in July that further restricts asylum claims and criminalizes "supporting and facilitating illegal immigration".

"We are fighting for an EP, European Commission and EPP in which anti-migration politicians are in the majority", Szijjarto said.

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