Hungary under its current leader, Victor Orban, is a serious threat to European unity. Yet when the European Parliament voted on sanctions, Orban can escape scrutiny by not attending the debates and he can rely on his far-right allies in the Parliament to vote down any action. Indeed, when a vote took place in September to trigger sanctions under Article 7, British Conservative Party MEPs chose to vote against the motion.
Hungary raises serious questions for the bloc and comes back to the existential challenge of migration and the Refugee Crisis. We should ask ourselves why Mr Orban still has high approval rates, (though opposition is rising). Hungary is by no means the only ‘problem child’ for the EU. Italy’s populist government was defiant of the EU’s budget rules and is now officially in recession. The treatment of refugees under Interior Minister Mateo Salvini has been inhumane, cruel but has so far faced few significant consequences. Poland, too, chooses not to abide by collective rules and policies set out by the EU. The bloc must make it clear that there are serious consequences for member states who choose not to abide by its rules.