Verhofstadt calls for Hungary to have its voting rights abolished in the European Council

Former Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt delivers speech during a symposium of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China at the Diet Members Building Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Eurofederalist lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt, who has previously accused Viktor Orbán of wanting to “destroy democracy in Europe,” has called for the Hungarian prime minister to have his voting rights “abolished” within the European Council.

The former Belgian prime minister and long-serving liberal MEP made the incendiary remark following the annual congress of Hungary’s governing Fidesz party in Budapest on Saturday during which Orbán was re-elected as the party’s president.

In his acceptance speech, the Hungarian leader expressed several concerns regarding the European Union’s direction of travel, citing Brussels’ reluctance to arrest the ongoing migration crisis, its ideological intrusion into the education of Hungarian children, and its commitment to not just continue funding Ukraine’s war effort with Russia, but to bring war to the European Union by negotiating Ukraine’s membership of the bloc.

“It is my deep conviction that we must say no to the Brussels model of Europe. We must say no because it is unsustainable,” Orbán told attendees.

“I am convinced that today in Brussels they are destroying and leading Europe to its downfall. They hammer more and more nails into its coffin every day,” he added.

The Hungarian prime minister reiterated his government’s position on opposing the “unprepared EU membership of Ukraine,” a policy which appeared to rile Mr. Verhofstadt and prompted his response.

“It is high time to abolish the voting rights of this person in the European Council,” the Belgian politician wrote about Orbán on X.

Such a move would see Hungary remain a member of the European Union but without any representation at the chamber comprising democratically-elected national leaders.

Some would argue this would be preferable for the liberal faction in Brussels, many of whom have grown increasingly weary of Hungary’s unapologetic dissent to its ambitions.

Budapest has repeatedly refused to sign off on attempts to amend the budget contributions of member states in the multi-annual financial framework to increase military funding for Ukraine.

Furthermore, Hungary is one of the few opponents of the European Union’s migration pact and its plans to introduce treaty change to abolish the unanimity principle in matters of foreign policy.

The Hungarian parliament dragging its feet on ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership has also provoked the ire of many in the de facto EU capital.

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