Majority of Estonian MEPs vote in favor of Hungary resolution

Estonian MEPs Indrek Tarand, Urmas Paet, and Marju Lauristin.
Estonian MEPs Indrek Tarand, Urmas Paet, and Marju Lauristin. Source: (Siim Lõvi /ERR)

Out of six of Estonia’s members of the European Parliament, five supported a resolution adopted on Wednesday that calls for an investigation into the legal situation in Hungary, and whether or not the country has violated common EU values. In addition, the parliament wants the European Commission to closely monitor how Hungary spends EU funds.

According to the resolution, the European Parliament is observing a serious deterioration of the rule of law and of democracy in Hungary. MEPs call for recently introduced controversial law, such as a bill aimed solely at closing down the Central European University, to be suspended or withdrawn, and on the European Commission to strictly monitor the use of EU funds by the Hungarian government.

In practice, the resolution calls on the parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to draw up a formal resolution for a plenary vote to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union and force Hungary to respect EU values.

Hungary needed “to repeal laws tightening rules against asylum-seekers and non-governmental organisations, and to reach an agreement with the US authorities, making it possible for Central European University to remain in Budapest as a free institution”, the resolution passed on Wednesday read.

Of Estonia’s MEPs, Kaja Kallas, Urmas Paet, and Yana Toom of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), Marju Lauristin of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and Indrek Tarand of the Greens-EFA parliamentary group voted in favor of the resolution.

Tunne Kelam, member of the group of the Estonian People’s Party (EPP), voted against it, following the EPP’s line that such a vote was premature.

The resolution was adopted with 393 to 221 votes and 64 abstentions. 

Paet: Member states have to meet requirements of democracy

Former minister of foreign affairs and MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE) told ERR on Wednesday that the liberals as well as he personally supported the resolution, as the situation in Hungary had taken a turn for the worse. “The cherry on the cake was the Hungarian government’s attack on the Central European University. Things shouldn’t go like this,” Paet said.

Commenting on Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s position that the European Parliament was interfering with Hungary’s internal affairs, Paet said that there were clear boundaries to what could happen within the EU. “For example, what do we do when a member state decides to reinstate capital punishment? Do we continue to cooperate? A member state has to stick with the requirements of a democracy,” Paet added.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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