Deputies of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament have strongly condemned critical statements made by Tamás Deutsch, an MEP of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz, about the group and its leader, but have not expelled him from their ranks, under a decision adopted at a meeting on Wednesday evening.
Austrian MEP Othmar Karas initiated Deutsch’s expulsion from the group over comments Deutsch had made comparing the EPP and its group leader Manfred Weber’s support for the European Union’s rule of law mechanism to 20th century authoritarian regimes.
The EPP group said on its website that Deutsch’s remarks were “in clear contradiction with European Christian Democracy and EPP values”. “Such behaviour has no place in our family,” the group said in a statement.
The group said that “frequent attacks by Fidesz’s representatives towards the European Union and its values are not in line with the core beliefs of the EPP”, namely European integration, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a media free of political intervention, support of civil society, and the protection of human rights and every minority.
The group therefore decided to withdraw with immediate effect all rights from Deutsch to address a plenary session of the EP on behalf of the group, to represent the group as a (shadow) rapporteur or represent its other formal positions.
Further, the group has called on all of its Fidesz MEPs “to reflect on whether their fundamental political convictions still are compatible with the values and core content of the group”.
The group has also called on the European People’s Party “to take a final decision on the membership of Fidesz immediately when health conditions allow this to happen.”
Deutsch: EPP group meeting ‘calm, sober’
A meeting of the European People’s Party’s EP group on Wednesday night was “calm and sober despite earlier hopes by the EPP’s adversaries”, Tamás Deutsch, an MEP of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz, said after the event.
Deutsch said that the group’s board had decided before the meeting not to put a proposal aimed at his expulsion on the agenda. He also noted that he had repeatedly apologised for his earlier, contested remarks.
Deutsch said that the “balanced” tone of the meeting had shown that “in the EPP common sense prevails event at the time of the pandemic, when there is no room for dividing political debates”.
Hungarian MEPs welcome the group’s resolution to call on the EPP to pass a final decision concerning Fidesz’s membership, Deutsch said, adding that the group’s “firm stance is a positive development”. Fidesz’s membership was suspended in March 2019, due to the Hungarian party’s critical stance and “alleged violation” of EPP values. EPP’s officials “have since kept the issue in their drawer”, Deutsch said, adding that his peers had been urging “meaningful negotiations” to determine if Fidesz and EPP “wish to continue their political career together or opt for changing their cooperation”.
The EPP group on Wednesday night condemned earlier remarks by Deutsch and stripped him of his rights to represent the EPP in the European Parliament.
Featured photo illustration by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI