Finnish member of European Parliament moves to suspend Hungary voting rights News
Finnish member of European Parliament moves to suspend Hungary voting rights

Finnish member of the European Parliament (EP) Petri Sarvamaa announced Tuesday that he launched a petition to deprive Hungary of its right to vote in the EU’s decision-making council. The petition is open for signatures by members till Friday.

Sarvamaa shared the petition, which is addressed to the President of the EP Roberta Metsola, on his X (formerly Twitter) account. In it, he requests that the EP take immediate action against Hungary under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). The petition emphasizes the need to initiate the Article 7(2) TEU procedure, citing Hungary’s alleged erosion of the rule of law and disruptive actions in the December European Council. The letter stresses that the EP plays a historical role in defending EU values and supporting ongoing procedures. It expresses support for EU institutions and argues that by invoking Article 7(2), the TEU sends a clear message to Hungary and all other member states about the EU’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and preventing disruptions to cooperation.

Furthermore, a report from Sarvamaa’s website states he is leading a campaign to strip Hungary of its EU voting rights, citing Prime Minister Viktor Órban’s obstruction of decision-making in the country. He argues that invoking Article 7 of the EU Treaty is necessary because Hungary’s actions hinder vital decisions, particularly as it relates to supporting Ukraine in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

The process reportedly involves two steps, with the first requiring a unanimous vote among member states to identify Hungary’s problems, such as rule of law or corruption issues. The second phase allows member states to vote to suspend Hungary’s voting rights, requiring a qualified majority.

After Sarvamaa’s Friday deadline for signatures on the letter, he plans to forward it to Metsola.

As per Article 7 of the TEU, upon proposal by one-third of member states, the European Parliament or the European Commission or Council, with Parliament’s consent, may determine a serious breach by a member state of Article 2 values. Also, the European Council, with unanimity and a one-third proposal, can decide on a persistent breach. The council, by a qualified majority, can suspend certain rights, including voting rights, after considering the impact on individuals and entities. However, member state obligations persist. The council, with a qualified majority, can later adjust or revoke measures based on changing circumstances.

Sarvamaa is a Finnish member of the EP affiliated with the Conservative Party. Known for his active involvement in EU affairs, Sarvamaa has been critical in addressing concerns about Hungary’s adherence to EU principles and the rule of law.

Hungary, under Órban, has faced international criticism for controversial rule of law issues. In June 2021, amendments limiting the dissemination of information on homosexuality and sex reassignment to minors led to EU infringement proceedings and condemnation from the UN. However, Órban attacked the European Commission for the same. In July 2022, the European Commission announced legal action against Hungary over an anti-LGBTQ+ law and the denial of broadcasting rights to a dissident radio station. Despite defending the amendments in court, Hungary faced scrutiny. Additionally, Órban declared a wartime state of emergency in 2022, citing concerns related to the war in Ukraine, reminiscent of a similar move during the COVID-19 pandemic, where he assumed special emergency powers.

Órban has faced opposition at home as well. In December 2021, Hungary’s Constitutional Court dismissed Orban’s government’s petition challenging a prior ruling by the EU Court of Justice, which declared Hungary’s asylum policies were in violation of EU law.