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European Parliament convenes for emergency session on virus, democratic norms

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European Parliament convenes for emergency session on virus, democratic norms

eu plenary session
Photo: Patrick Seeger/EFE

The EU will today begin a two-day emergency meeting to vote on the bloc’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the erosion of democratic norms within its member states.

So far 13 European leaders have signed a declaration condemning the policies passed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in response to the crisis.

In addition to curtailing press freedoms, Orban has pushed a law that allows him to rule Hungary by decree with no expiration date. Hungarian officials insist the law does not allow Orban to unilaterally impose legislation beyond the scope or extent of the crisis. Nevertheless, EU members are determined to reprimand what they consider a threat to the organisation’s core ideals.

Expect strong support for the activation of Article 7 in the EU constitution, which allows for the suspension of a member state’s voting rights in the most extreme of cases. Moreover, economic punishments are likely to be enacted mandating that Hungary’s inclusion in the next EU budget allocation be contingent on a return of democratic checks and balances. Although full suspension of membership requires unanimity—an unlikely event given Poland’s steadfast defence of its increasingly authoritarian ally—a simple majority is sufficient to trigger economic sanctions.

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