Even as the European Parliament moves to punish Hungary for its violation of EU's core values, a defiant Hungarian government has said its stand on George Soros-funded Central European University (CEU) has not changed.
12, 2018European lawmakers voted by a huge margin on Wednesday to launch a punishment plan against Hungary for potentially breaching democratic norms, a measure never previously initiated by the European Parliament.The vote became handiest step one against doable sanctions.
Dominant at home and a figurehead for populist and nationalist figures across Europe, Orban suffered a rare defeat Wednesday when the assembly in Strasbourg voted to take legal action against Hungary under Article Seven of the European Union's treaty. Possible sanctions against the EU country concerned are not clearly defined in the EU treaties, but might include suspending voting rights in the Council and the European Council.
"As of now there is no timeline" for the European Council to act, she said.
In the unprecedented move, 448 MEPs voted in favour of launching the so-called "Article 7" procedure, 197 against and with 48 abstentions, the EP referred Hungary to the other member states to check the health of the country's democracy.
Dutch Greens MEP Judith Sargentini, who spearheaded the vote, smiled broadly and breathed a sigh of relief before embracing her supporters in parliament in the French city of Strasbourg.
When asked for comment, a Hungarian government representative cited Palkovics' interview from June in which he had said they are "currently examining whether actual training is being performed by the CEU in the United States with the involvement of education experts".
But Italy's anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said his League party's six European Union lawmakers would support Orban.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, echoing Orban's longtime position that allowed him to win a third-consecutive term in April, called the vote "petty revenge" against Hungary for its tough anti-migrant policies.
Bringing the Article 7 procedure to the final stage would require the unanimous support of all other European Union member states, which analysts say is unlikely. The vote comes nine months after the European Commission used its power to launch the same process against Poland. Similarly, the stance being taken by the Orban government is also being echoed in other countries such as Italy.
The vote represents a particular challenge for EPP's German head Manfred Weber since he announced his bid for the presidency of the EU's executive Commission next year.
"Viktor Orban's government has been leading the charge against European values by silencing independent media, replacing critical judges, and putting academia on a leash", Sargentini said.
But Ms Sargentini, who wrote the report on Mr Orban's government, said the decision sent an important message that the European Union would stand up for citizens' rights. "They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation", she said.