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The European Parliament will debate today and vote tomorrow on a resolution on the issue of the rule of law in Hungary. Rapporteur Gwendolyn Delbos-Corfield (Greens) announced today at a press conference that the document is expected to be supported by a broad majority.
In her words, five of the seven parliamentary groups support the assessment that the Council of the EU should discuss the possibility of Hungary not receiving the presidency of the institution from July next year. She said such a possibility had so far been discussed with restraint and even lawyers were unsure of the possible steps. According to her, several EU countries share the opinion that the Hungarian Presidency should be postponed.
The rapporteur explained that the new resolution relates to the withdrawn Hungarian bill targeting the LGBT+ community, as well as a bill that would limit teachers' rights. We demand that EU funds for Budapest remain frozen, Delbos-Corfield added.
Isabelle Wiesler-Lima (EPP) explained that the EP would not tell the Council of the EU what to do, but would call for a decision on the protection of the EU and fundamental values.
Thèse Rutten (Socialists and Democrats) commented that Hungary is no longer a democracy and the Council of the EU should realise this. In his words, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán thinks he could use the EU as an ATM. He must understand that this is not possible, Rutten insisted. In his words, the obstacles Hungary creates to common European decisions harm the image of the EU and this would deteriorate further when the country heads the presidency. Not to mention Orban's ties not only with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but also with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic and Republika Srpska's Milorad Dodik, Rutten added.
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Sophie in 't Veld (Renew Europe) said that the EP may not hold trilateral negotiations on European legislation with the Hungarian Presidency. She explained that these negotiations are not mandatory under the EU treaty and it is possible for MEPs to simply vote on the bills in three readings. The European Commission should not negotiate with Budapest, but monitor the fulfilment of the conditions, she added. There is no negotiation on the rule of law issues, added In 't Veld on the occasion of the exchange of letters between the Commission and Budapest on the issue of unfreezing EU funds for Hungary.
The Council must decide the issue with the Presidency. We strongly recommend that Orbán be persuaded to cede Hungary's order in the list of presidencies. The EU Treaty does not require the EP to work in a certain way with the presidency of the Council of the EU, there are many opportunities for cooperation, she added.
Malin Björk (The Left) said allowing a Hungarian presidency would weaken the EU and was dangerous. She proposed Hungary's order to head the Council of the EU to be skipped and the country to take on this role when it returns to compliance with legality.
Council of the EU