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Orbán to participate in EP debate on rule of law

EU

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will participate in person at a debate in the European Parliament on the report prepared by rapporteur Judith Sargentini on the rule of law in Hungary, scheduled for September 11.

According to news site napi.hu, Orbán will be present at the debate that takes place a day before MEPs are set to vote on the report on September 12. The report, which notes the “existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded,” was approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in June.

The report calls for the launch of an Article 7 procedure against Hungary, popularly known as the “nuclear option,” which could ultimately strip the country of its EU voting rights. However, this would require a unanimous vote by all other member states, which analysts say is highly unlikely given the strong support of Poland.

Article 7 is invoked with the aim of suspending certain rights from a member state, if that state is deemed to have persistently breached the EUʼs founding values, defined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union as “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”

After LIBE approved the report, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said the vote on the report had been a “political ruling” and called the procedure a “show trial.”

Orbán has repeatedly dubbed the document the “Soros Report,” in reference to Hungarian-born investor George Soros, adding that Hungary is being pressured to change its stance on the issue of immigration. Recently, he noted, a number of countries have expressed support for Hungary’s position regarding the migration issue.

The document approved by the LIBE committee - which, if adopted by the EP plenary session, will be the EPʼs proposal for a Council decision - specifically states concerns over the functioning of Hungaryʼs constitutional and electoral system; the independence of the judiciary and the rights of judges; corruption and conflicts of interest; privacy and data protection; freedom of expression, academic freedom, and freedom of association and religion; rights of persons belonging to minorities, such as the Roma and Jews; and the fundamental rights of asylum seekers and the right to equal treatment, among others.

The EPʼs plenary session can adopt the report, thereby proposing that the Council launch an Article 7 procedure against Hungary, by more than two-thirds of those present and by an absolute majority (at least 376 votes).

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