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Hungary takes EU presidency

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Hungary has taken the helm of the European Union, even as a controversial new law that has sparked concerns over media freedom in the country comes into force.

The country will have the six-month rotating presidency at a crucial time for the 27-nation bloc. Chief amongst the issues Hungary will have to grapple with are the eurozone debt crisis and negotiations over the EU's long-term budget.

Alarm bells are ringing in Brussels, however, about Hungary's domestic political agenda.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, came to power in April, when his centre-right Fidesz party won an unprecedented two-thirds majority in the parliament, giving him the power to change laws and amend the constitution with little opposition.

Critics say he has set about creating a one-party state, with independent institutions either abolished or taken over by his allies.

The latest issue to raise alarm among other EU countries has been the creation of a new watchdog agency to regulate Hungarian media content, with effect from Saturday.

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