03:36 GMT25 February 2020
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    The European Parliament has voted 448 to 197 in support of the initiation of the EU Treaty's Article 7 proceedings against Hungary, which, if implemented, may result in the country being deprived of its European Council voting rights, and possibly even sanctioned.

    Defying the results of Wednesday's vote to start legal steps against Hungary over Budapest's alleged "systemic threat" to the European Union's "founding values," Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused Brussels of double standards, and of trying to strip Hungary of the right to control its own borders. 

    Speaking to the Kossuth Radio state broadcaster on Friday, Orban said Budapest was contemplating legal action against the EU over the vote, and that the government would make a decision on Monday as to what steps would be taken.  

    According to the prime minister, the required two-thirds majority reached by European lawmakers on Wednesday didn't account for the 48 MEPs who abstained from the vote, which should have been counted as votes against disciplinary action. In effect, he said, the European Parliament has accused Budapest of ignoring the rule of law while disregarding its own procedural rules.

    "In today's European Parliament, there is a clear pro-migration majority," Orban said, suggesting that the body's lawmakers were trying to change Europe's composition with support of "Soros organizations." 

    "We need a new European Parliament and another future," the prime minister added, pointing to the upcoming European Parliament elections next spring.

    Hungary's continued resistance to the EU's immigration policy has forced Brussels to change its tactics, Orban said. "The plan is that if they cannot force Hungary to allow migrants in, they will strip the country of the right to control its borders."

    "They want to stigmatize Hungary and weaken Hungary's resistance. They want to replace Hungarian border guards and soldiers who have taken an oath and for whom the homeland is paramount and send mercenaries from Brussels who will let migrants in," Orban added.

    The European Parliament voted to initiate Article 7 after approving the so-called "Sargentini Report," which accused Hungary of flouting EU standards on democracy, civil rights and corruption. Orban said the government had "responded" to all of the report's claims, and noted that it was filled with dozens of "factual mistakes." The report's adoption poses "no danger whatsoever" to Hungary, according to the prime minister.

    Hungary and its fellow Visegrad partners Poland and the Czech Republic have long been critical of the EU's open-door border policy, and have each rejected mandatory migration relocation quotas supported by Germany and France, among others. In December 2015, the European Commission launched its first infringement procedure against Hungary over legislation related to asylum claims. Budapest responded to the migrant crisis which struck Europe in 2015 by setting up border fences and beefing up border controls on its borders.


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    legal challenge, rules, migration, European Parliament, European Union, Viktor Orban, Hungary, Europe
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