For now, in an effort to avoid sanctions, Hungary is subject only to so-called “preventative measures.” More drastic measures, including suspending the member state’s voting rights, can only be taken at the behest of the heads of the 28 member states.

Whatever the outcome, it’s a historic step. The EU’s Article 7, which allows the body to suspend member states over breaching the union’s founding principles, has never been triggered before.

Despite ire from the right, many have applauded the EU for sticking to its guns. “The European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU,” Amnesty International human rights expert Berber Biala-Hettinga said in a statement. “They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation.”

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