EU Parliament Votes to Trigger Article 7 Against Hungary

What happened in Hungary

Eastern Europe has for a long time had a long and complex relationship with the EU, each country having its own plethora of reasons for joining. For many it was the constant threat of Russia, still lurking after re-emerging into more prominence at the turn of the century. For others, it was economics, looking to improve their countries in a time where they were not as established due to their previous position within the USSR. For whatever reason, these states saw fit to join on terms agreeable to themselves. In recent years and with the ever-changing international political environment, both the people and the politicians do not feel the terms are as agreeable as they once were.

The immigration crisis, economic crisis, and other regulatory changes have left the EU weakened as an idea, although there are still as ardent defenders of it as ever. Hungary and Poland are two of the more notable countries in Eastern Europe to have been opposed to EU requirements.

Namely, both countries main issue is the focus on immigration; both have refused to take in any refugees, let alone take the required quota that the EU has set for all of its members.

This week, the EU Parliament voted to trigger Article 7 against Hungary. Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty states that the Parliament or Commission can put forward a proposal that a member state is in breach of the values outlined in Article 2. The reference put forward for this proposal is the Hungarian government's recent crackdown on specific media groups in the country on the claim of false information spread. It also refers to the fact that Hungary is still refusing to take any refugees of the assigned quota that the EU has set for it.

The vote resulted in 448 MEPs voting in favor of invoking the article while 197 voted against. What the vote would mean, if passed through the European Council, is that Hungary would have its voting rights removed from the European Council, as well as other additional rights. This would essentially mean, Hungary does not get a say in the overall political direction of the EU.

Autocracy in Hungary?

Hungary has, for the past eight years Elected Viktor Orban, who won a landslide majority in the 2010 elections of 52.7% of the vote compared to the Hungarian Socialist Party. In 2014 he still won by a clear majority of 44.9% and in 2018 another clear majority of 49.3%. His record in elections demonstrates his popularity and the popularity of his policies, primarily the focus on anti-immigration.

So with a clear majority voting a democratically elected leader into power for a third term, following the laws of the political system in Hungary, the leader of the country is being declared authoritarian.

This sets a dangerous future precedent for the EU, in its finding a democratic leader autocratic, as a supranational state what position is it in to decide on how it defines the leadership of its member states. Indirectly this is denying the majority of the population of Hungary that voted for him and his policies their right to vote. This all comes in the form of pre-determined foreign assessments of a national government in which interfering in, begs the question as to the authoritarian nature of the EU, demanding members conform with their ideas, even if the ideas are not what they wanted or were able to vote for.

The Current Analysis

The vote will, in short, never go through. In order for it to go through, it has to be unanimous in the European Council, and Poland has already said it will stand by its ally. Earlier in the year, Poland was in a similar situation, the threat of Article 7 being invoked and being used in a similar fashion to demand the country back off from its stance on immigration. Before, Hungary stepped in to support Poland, leading to the action being dropped. It is not the first time the EU has used this in an attempt to redirect national focus back to EU objectives, and it certainly won’t be the last.

What it does do, is cements an already strong anti-Eu sentiment in Eastern Europe and helps to culminate further distrust around all of Europe. The position of Hungary is highly likely to garner support amongst a variety of anti-Eu groups across the continent, from Britain to the Czech Republic.

A Look Into the Future

When Poland had Article 7 invoked on it earlier in the year, there was a massive backlash among voters in both Poland and Hungary. The attempt at forcing immigration quotas onto both countries is only further serving to strengthen the government's position. Support for the anti-immigration parties is growing, in both these countries and across Europe. Creating a stable base for resistance and then further fuelling it by challenging the voters and threatening the government which will only lead to an explosion of defiance against supra-state polices.

Eastern Europe’s future with the EU is unclear, both Hungary and Poland are coming to a point where the requirements of membership are more constraining than the benefits. The regulations are becoming more numerous than the rewards. This, combined with a very strong cultural identity which is heavily anti-immigration, means both countries are set for a path very different from the EU in the future.

It is more than likely that with a projected rise in support during this next governmental period all the way to the next election cycle that the Swedish Democrats are only going to rise further in popularity. Bringing to the forefront one of the main issues they campaign on – immigration.

Ray Jones / Journalist
I am a Proud Patriot. I have a degree in history and international law with an interest in anthropology. I aim to make Americans realize their greatness!
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