Will European leaders block a process that could lead to sanctions against European Union member Hungary? We will soon find out.
EU leaders are reportedly challenged. They will meet this week to discuss this, following up on parliament’s approval to implement sanctions against Budapest over rule of law.
Viktor Orban’s allies – Poland and the Czech Republic, however, have said they will stop the process. Also, the UK’s ruling Conservative party – and 15 of its MEPs – also oppose EU action against Hungary. Michael Gove, the UK environment secretary, defended that stance on Sunday, telling the BBC that criticising Mr Orban would have jeopardised “the best deal for Britain as we leave the European Union.”
Orban has been supportive to the UK’s position in talks with Brussels, calling for “a fairer Brexit because we love the British”.
Manfred Weber, leader of the EU’s centre-right European People’s party who is running to become European Commission president, said Europe’s leaders needed to take a stance on Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s domestic policies, after MEPs last week “did their job” in triggering a so-called Article 7 process.
“The EPP invested more than two hours discussing Orban. But there have been zero minutes in the European Council [where EU leaders meet],” Weber told the Financial Times.
“[France’s Emmanuel] Macron, [the Netherlands’ Mark] Rutte, [and Luxembourg’s Xavier] Bettel are all publicly complaining about Orban, attacking him, and defining themselves as his political opponents. But they don’t discuss it,” Weber said.
As reported by The Financial Times, the summit of the EU’s 28 leaders in Salzburg, Austria, will bring Orban face to face with other EU leaders for the first time since Article 7 was triggered last week.