Background information: on Thursday, the European Parliament in Strasbourg approved a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the slow way rule of law procedures against Poland and Hungary are handled by the European Council. They urged the Council to hold regular meetings and to allow representatives of the EP to assist at hearings and debates about Hungary (since the Article 7 procedure in Hungary’s case was launched by the EU 18 months ago). The resolution also urges the EU to make financial transfers to member countries conditional on compliance with key European values. The motion passed with over two thirds of votes in favour, including 63 per cent of votes by People’s Party MEPs. PM Orbán said Fidesz was just ‘a centimetre away’ from leaving the EPP at that point, but ‘no’ votes by Spanish, Italian and French EPP members convinced him that Fidesz is not being betrayed by the EPP as such.
In her Népszava report from Brussels, Katalin Halmai suggests that although the resolution was supported by a majority of EPP members, Fidesz’s expulsion from the EPP cannot be taken for granted. On the one hand, the resolution, rather than expressing an opinion about rule of law infringements in Hungary or Poland, reprimands the European Council which has shown no energy to bring the two Article 7 procedures forward so far. Even more importantly, she writes, the result might have been different if it was only about Hungary. Poland’s governing PiS party doesn’t belong to the EPP and is widely disliked within the group.
On Azonnali, Bea Bakó and Martin Bukovics suggest that the resolution will have no practical consequences whatsoever. They believe the Hungarian government do deserve being sanctioned, but that will hardly happen. In fact EU rules, they explain, have been devised in a way to avoid radical and swift measures. The protracted procedures the EP resolution complains about are part of the DNA of the European Union. In fact, Bakó and Bukovics remark, any sanctions would ultimately require a unanimous vote within the Council, where Hungary and Poland would veto any resolution against one another.