Tue Apr 25, 2017 04:47PM
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Photo by AFP)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Photo by AFP)

The European Parliament is due to hear Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on rights record and a series of controversial decisions that has sparked concerns about possible European Union punishments.

A spokeswoman for the center-right European People's Party (EPP), the biggest bloc in the European Parliament that also includes Orban, said on Tuesday that the premier would address members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Wednesday for a debate on Hungary.

The office of Hungary’s representative in Brussels, where the European Union is based, confirmed the matter, although it would not provide further details.

The EU has become increasingly sensitive about Orban’s introduction of restrictive measures on refugees, academic figures and activists.

A main source of concern for the EU has been Orban’s decision to restrict the activities of the Central European University in Budapest, an academic center that has repeatedly been derided by the premier. American billionaire and investor George Soros, the founder of the university, is expected to meet EU officials in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the fate of the academic center as it could be shut down over a piece of legislation in Hungary.

The front page of a Hungarian weekly shows photos of Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) in 2017 and the liberal-democrat Orban in 1989 during an anti-government demonstration in Budapest on April 24, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Eurocentric Orban has also led a campaign entitled, "Let's stop Brussels!", in which questionnaires have been handed out to households to ask them about how Hungary should deal with the European Union and its policies. 

The European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the EU, said this month that it could begin the so-called infringement proceedings within weeks if the concerns were not allayed by Orban and his government.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said measures adopted by Budapest so far did not expose a "systemic threat" to the EU rule of law standards. However, he said other infringement proceedings could be opened against Hungary if Orban did not resolve the matter by the end of April.

Timmermans himself will attend the parliament hearing on Wednesday, when member states would discuss Hungary’s case and announce their findings.