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16 September 2018, 04:30 | Erica Roy
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If preventative measures do not work, or the breach has already occurred, Article 7 (2) can put sanctions in place, including the stripping of voting rights in the European Council and other EU bodies.
After the vote, MEPs welcomed the adoption of the report and Sargentini with a standing ovation. But it was still unclear whether the 751-strong would be able to muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass the censure motion, which accuses of breaching core European Union values.
Opposition parties hailed the EP's decision as a win for democracy that rejected the Hungarian government's illiberal policies.
"Hungary won't give in to such blackmail and will continue to protect its borders", Salvini wrote on Facebook after the 448-197 vote by Euro MPs to sanction Hungary for flouting European Union rules on democracy, civil rights and corruption.
However, Hungary is now facing "preventative" measures, which the parliament says are created to avoid sanctions entirely.
"Every country has its sovereign right to make internal reforms it deems appropriate", Poland's foreign ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Suspension of Hungary's voting rights is the most serious possible effect - but is considered unlikely.
The European Commission initiated similar proceedings against Warsaw in December and three months later the Hungarian parliament adopted a resolution supporting Warsaw in its fight against the bloc, saying the commission does not have "the right to meddle" in the domestic affairs of member states and that it was "unjustified" in initiating Article 7 proceedings.
Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Foreign Minister said that the European Parliament's decision is a "petty revenge" against Hungary by pro-immigration politicians.
Orban, whose right-wing Fidesz party has governed Hungary since 2010 and was re-elected in April for a third consecutive term on a strongly anti-immigrant platform, is playing a long-term political game in Europe.
"Viktor Orban's government has been leading the charge against European values by silencing independent media, replacing critical judges, and putting academia on a leash", she said.
"Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers", she said.
"You think that you know the needs of the Hungarian people better than the Hungarian people themselves".
Amnesty International's expert on human rights in the EU, Berber Biala-Hettinga, hailed the vote as "historic".
Along the way, Orban has been shielded by his alliance with fellow center-right European leaders as part of the European People's Party, an arrangement that gives them control of the European Parliament and, other leaders have said, more sway over his moves at home.
"The European Commission is using the tools we have, launching infringement procedures against countries that don't respect EU law".
"The values of the European Union are not negotiable for us, " Weber said.
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