Berlin (CNSNews.com) – The president of the European Union’s executive Commission wants Hungary’s ruling party kicked out of its European Parliament political group, after it launched a poster campaign accusing him of colluding with the billionaire philanthropist George Soros to flood Europe with illegal immigrants.
Jean-Claude Juncker said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party does not belong in the European People’s Party (EPP), a grouping of center right/Christian Democratic parties in the European Union.
Both Fidesz and Juncker’s own party, the Christian Social People's Party of Luxembourg, are members of the EPP – the biggest of the nine groups currently in the European Parliament, holding 217 of the 751 seats.
“Orbán does not represent Christian Democratic values in any way,” Juncker said during a panel discussion in one of Germany’s state legislatures on Tuesday. “His place is not in the European People’s Party.”
Juncker said Manfred Weber, the German politician who heads the EPP grouping – and is hoping to succeed Juncker when his five-year term ends later this year – should ask himself whether he really needs the Fidesz votes. (Orbán’s party holds just 12 of the EPP’s 217 seats.)
The spat was triggered by posters – accessible on the Hungarian government’s Facebook page among other places – which charge that Juncker and Soros want to introduce mandatory migrant settlement quotas and to weaken E.U. member-states’ border protection rights.
The Hungarian-born Soros, a U.S. citizen, is an outspoken critic of Orbán, who has declared Soros an “enemy of the state” and regularly accuses him of conspiring to promote uncontrolled mass immigration in Hungary.
Last week Soros issued a warning ahead of upcoming European Parliament elections saying that the E.U.’s “obsolete party system” will help right-wing populists to replace traditional democratic values with “something radically different.”
Speaking to reporters in Budapest, Hungarian government spokesman Zoltán Kovács defended the poster campaign.
“Brussels wants to continue to support illegal immigration,” he said. “The Hungarians need to know about it, so the latest information campaign has been launched.”
Kovacs denied the campaign was connected to the European Parliament elections in May.
The European Commission also denounced what it called Orbán’s “ludicrous conspiracy theory,” launching a counter-campaign of its own.
“The E.U. supports not undermines national border protection,” it says. “Member-states decide to what level they want to accept legal migration.”
Weber, the EPP president, has not commented on the Hungarian media campaign.
Re-elected for a third term last April on an anti-immigration platform, Orbán has been increasingly at odds with the E.U. since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015. He has continually refused to comply with an E.U. scheme to re-allocate refugees throughout the E.U.
Hungary passed a law last summer to criminalize activities that support asylum seekers. Officially dubbed “Stop Soros,” it was largely seen as a method to target Soros-backed non-governmental organizations. In response, the European Commission sued Hungary for allegedly breaching the E.U.’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In September, the European Parliament voted to trigger procedures that could open the door to sanctions against Hungary and potentially revoke its E.U. voting rights, citing concerns including migrant abuse, restrictions on press freedom, and corruption.
The motion passed by 448-197 votes, with 48 abstentions. Even purported allies in the EPP grouping voted against Orbán.