Hungary will seek legal ways to challenge Article 7 vote

German Chancellor Merkel welcomes Czech Prime Minister Babis in Berlin

German Chancellor Merkel welcomes Czech Prime Minister Babis in Berlin

The Czech government stands behind Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Thursday.

Wiith 448 votes for, 197 against and 48 abstentions, the MPs adopted a report recommending the activation of procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union, according to which Hungary may be punished to the extent that it is stripped of the right to vote. However, the vote has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU.

Poland will "vote against any possible sanctions" that could be "imposed on Hungary within ..."

Opposition parties hailed the EP's decision as a win for democracy that rejected the Hungarian government's illiberal policies.

This is the first time the EP has initiated such a procedure against a member state, an unprecedented move that will taint Orban's Fidesz party in Europe.

Since coming to power, Mr Orban's government has taken a hardline stance against immigration.

But Italy's anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said his League party's six European Union lawmakers would support Orban.

"Every country has its sovereign right to make internal reforms it deems appropriate", Poland's foreign ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.

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Now it is up to the Austrian presidency of the EU to launch the procedure of the council of EU countries to examine whether Hungary's government does breach EU rules and values. Macron has sought to take the lead in fighting nationalists including Orban and Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and he has called himself the "main opponent" of the two politicians. Farage also encouraged Orban to "join the Brexit club".

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said the approval of the report was "petty revenge by pro-migration politicians".

On Tuesday, Orban said his country was being targeted for choosing not to be "a country of migrants" as he dismissed charges of corruption.

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. "They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation", she said.

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

"The European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU".

Farage said the European Union - with the backing of U.S. financier George Soros "and people like that" - wanted to "break down" nation states and "change the entire identity of the entire continent". It was the first step in a process that could ultimately strip Hungary of its voice in decision-making in the European Union.

Orban on Tuesday attacked European lawmakers in a fiery speech at the parliamentary chambers in Strasbourg, France, saying, "Hungary is going to be condemned because the Hungarian people have decided that this country is not going to be a country of migrants".

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