Viktor Orbán says European Parliament ‘verdict already written’

The vote tomorrow on whether or not to trigger Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty - and effectively freeze out the Eastern European country - has been brought about by a damning report by the Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini.
It was highly critical of its democratic record, with grave concerns raised about the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as wider corruption, and the independence of the judiciary.
Tomorrow’s vote could theoretically result in the Hungarian government losing its right to vote on EU decisions.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is expected to defend his government’s record in a defiant speech to the European Parliament this afternoon.
He will try to fire fight against members of his own European People’s Party (EPP) group who are threatening to expel Mr Orban’s Fidesz party from the conglomerate.
The EPP is a conservative multinational party, which became the largest in the European Parliament in the late 1990s and has remained dominant ever since.
And even German ally Manfred Weber, EPP group leader, indicated he expects Mr Orbán to fall into line.
He said: “We expect the Hungarian government to make a move towards their EU partners. Europe’s fundamental values must be respected by all.”
Hungary prime minister Victor Orban
Hungary prime minister Victor Orban (Image: GETTY)
Cracks are appearing across the European Union
Cracks are appearing across the European Union (Image: GETTY)
Tensions have been growing for months between Hungary and the EU. Its government warned the EU’s executive not to overstep its authority back in June, when evaluating the nation’s judicial overhaul.
This followed mounting concern that Mr Orbán was seeking to gain too much control over the legal system. At the time, justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi reportedly said: “Setting up the organisation of the judiciary is a national responsibility. EU institutions have no mandate to specifically determine its framework.”
Wealthy EU countries such as Germany - which are popular destinations for migrants - have also been pushing for a deal under which no member country could opt out completely from hosting new arrivals from overseas. But Hungary has staunchly opposed any resulting obligatory immigration quotas.
The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has been monitoring the situation in Hungary since May last year. In a related resolution, parliament stated that the “situation in the country justifies triggering the procedure [Article 7], which may result in sanctions for Hungary, including temporary suspension of its voting rights”.
Article 7 was designed to uphold core the EU's core values such as democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law.
This legal mechanism is a so-called 'nuclear option' that allows the EU to sanction countries which reject these values, by suspending their membership rights.
Zoltán Kovács, spokesman for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s right-wing administration, branded the Green’s report “a desperate attempt on behalf of left-wing politicians who are trying to set up a tribunal. We have always maintained this is a witch hunt”.
Mr Kovács added: “Instead of leaving, which many would probably like to see, we would rather demonstrate for the EPP that our stand, our perspective, is something that would help the EPP to remain the strongest political … group in the European Parliament.”
His government published its own 109-page “information sheet” taking issue with the report, which was approved by the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee.
Mr Orban was elected for a fourth term in April for his anti-immigrant nationalist policies.