Belgium suggests depriving Hungary of voting rights in the EU

Belgium, which now holds the rotating headship of the Council of the European Union, calls on EU member states to consider beginning the process of canceling Hungary’s voting rights. 

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib made this statement in an interview with Politico. She proposed a no-confidence resolution against Hungary under Article 7 of the EU Treaty. 

“I think we need to have the courage to make decisions: go right to the end of Article 7, activate Article 7 right to the end, which provides for the end of the right of veto,” Hadja Lahbib said.

Reasons for removing Hungary’s voting rights

The European Parliament launched the first step of the Article 7 procedure against Hungary in 2018, but the procedure has stagnated. The next step in that process, when a country is deemed to be at risk of violating the EU’s core values, is an extreme option because it provides for the most severe political sanctions Brussels can impose on a member nation: the suspension of the right to vote on EU decisions.

Hungary will assume the EU Council presidency in July. It gives Budapest more power to set the European Union’s agenda and priorities for six months. Till now, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán has continued to block EU decision-making on major topics such as military aid to Ukraine, sanctions against Russia, and the next phase in accepting Kyiv into the EU. 

Upset by Hungary’s stalling actions, other European countries are looking for inventive methods to circumvent Budapest on major EU decisions without requiring unanimity. Some leaders in the EU are also considering giving Hungary a small role in the next European Commission, despite Hungary’s ambition to preserve its prominent enlargement position.

Hungary has not joined the Peace Summit

Meanwhile, on June 2, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told the Belarusian ONT channel that his nation has yet to determine whether to attend the Global Peace Summit on Ukraine, set for June 15–16.

Since coming to power two decades ago, Orbán’s government has increased the governing Fidesz party’s dominance over the judicial system and state media. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Budapest has consistently stalled or refused to provide assistance to Kyiv. 

The European Parliament and Germany have questioned Budapest’s competence to lead the Council of the EU beginning July 1, but Lahbib claimed Belgium asked that Hungary serve its term.

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