MEPs vote to activate sanction process against Hungary

MEPs on the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee voted to launch the EU’s disciplinary procedure against the country, a lengthy legal process that could lead to Hungary being stripped of EU voting rights.

Hungary is very unlikely to lose its voting rights, but the unprecedented vote on Monday is a symbolic move against Orbán, who was re-elected for a third term in April, after a campaign that international observers said had clearly favoured the ruling coalition and was characterised by intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric.

The vote is only a first step; a final decision to launch the procedure requires a two-thirds majority in the European parliament. If a majority of MEPs vote in September, ministers will be obliged to consider whether there is a serious and persistent breach of the EU’s basic democratic values in Hungary.