Weber: Orban would be out of EPP if not for COVID

“Due to the pandemic, we cannot hold a meeting on the total expulsion of Fidesz, otherwise a decision would have already been taken,” EPP party leader Manfred Weber told De Standaard. [EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET]

Had there been no epidemic, the assembly of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) would have already decided about the exclusion of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, Manfred Weber, the group’s leader in the European Parliament, told Flemish De Standaard, Hungarian outlet Népszava reported.

Due to the pandemic, we cannot hold a meeting on the total expulsion of Fidesz, otherwise a decision would have already been taken, EPP ‘s Weber told De Standaard.

At a meeting of EU ambassadors (COREPER) on 16 November, Hungary and Poland blocked the approval of the long-term budget and the recovery fund totalling €1.81 trillion because of a mechanism linking disbursement of EU funds to rule of law.

Orbán’s party has been suspended from the EPP since March 2019 over alleged violations of EU rule-of-law principles, but continues to vote with the parliamentary group, despite internal divisions on the matter and attempts to oust Fidesz.

According to Weber, Orbán’s is continuously losing support because of vetoing the seven-year budget and the recovery fund.

Asked if Fidesz should be excluded, Weber said that Orbán can still show he is committed to solutions.

In an interview with EURACTIV on 19 November, Siegfried Mureșan, a Romanian EPP MEP, admitted that the current discussion makes the EPP uncomfortable.

“We will have to assess the situation at a later stage. However, the only priority now is to definitely move on with Plan A because the more we debate, the more complicated things become,” Mureșan said. The Plan A according to him is the immediate adoption of the next EU budget, the recovery fund and a rule of law mechanism.

However, Orbán has his own allies in the EPP. The most vocal one is Slovenia’s PM Janez Janša, as well as the Italian and French delegations of the centre-right political family.  (Vlagyiszlav Makszimov)

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