EPP Group strips Fidesz MEP of rights, but not membership

Tamas Deutsch. [EP/Daina Le Lardic]

With 133 votes in favour, six against and three abstentions, the European People’s Party Group withdrew all rights to speaking time in plenary on behalf of the group, to be nominated to lead political files on behalf of the group or represent the party in certain circumstances from the leader of the Fidesz delegation MEP Tamás Deutsch on Wednesday.

The decision is a reaction to Austrian MEP Othmar Karas’ letter – co-signed by a group of his fellow party members to the group’s leadership – asking for the exclusion of Deutsch for comments made to Hungarian media outlets about EPP group leader Manfred Weber’s defence of the rule of law conditionality. He compared the Bavarian politician’s words to the Gestapo and the Hungarian Stalinist secret service. Deutsch later apologised.

The group stopped short of excluding Deutsch but said the letter asking for his exclusion “remains on the table.”

The parliamentary group also called on the wider EPP party “to take a final decision on the membership of Fidesz immediately when health conditions allow this to happen.”

Fidesz has been suspended from the EPP since spring 2019 but its MEPs currently continue their membership and align their votes in the EPP Group, the political family’s representation in the European Parliament.

The EPP parliamentary group called on Fidesz MEPs to “reflect on whether their fundamental political convictions still are compatible with the values and core content of the EPP Group and to act consistently with these EPP core values or draw the necessary conclusions.”

Earlier, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán suggested to EPP Group leader Manfred Weber the creation of a subgroup within the political faction similar to the arrangement between the British Tory MEPs and the EPP in the 1990s, called EPP-ED.

Reacting to the decision on Facebook, Deutsch said “I love the European People’s Party,” adding that he is “member of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) European Parliamentary Group” and the “head of the Hungarian national delegation of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)” in the European Parliament. “That’s it.”

(Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com)

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