EU chief recommends cutting billions of funds for Hungary

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Billions of euros at stake for Orban's government

The European Union's executive plans to recommend cutting funds earmarked for Hungary over corruption woes - Reuters reports. If implemented, this would be the EU's first such move against the country's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

"We must fight for our democracies... I would like to focus on corruption, "European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in her annual policy speech, confirming that the executive will freeze funding for members damaging democracy. The suspension could mean $22.44 billion)worth of cohesion funds earmarked for Hungary from the 2021-27 budget.

For the past decade, Orbán's right-wing government has faced criticism from civil rights organizations for undermining democratic standards. On Wednesday, European lawmakers denounced the nationalist leader for dismantling the rights of vulnerable groups, as well as the freedom of media, academics, and courts.

Hungary is no longer a full democracy, MEP's new report states

Hungary can no longer be considered a full democracy, members of the European Parliament declared on Thursday.  According to the symbolic report, the Central European country should be considered a "hybrid regime of electoral autocracy".

The main areas of concern for MEPs range from the functioning of the constitutional and electoral system to judicial independence, academic and religious freedom, and the rights of LGBT+ groups. 

The Parliament "expresses deep regret that the lack of decisive EU action has contributed to a breakdown in democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, turning the country into a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy," the report reads.

The text passed with 433 votes in favor, 123 against, and 28 abstentions.

Led by Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, a French MEP, the report examined developments that have taken place in Hungary since the hemicycle triggered the Article 7 procedure in 2018.

Hungary tightens abortion access 

Women seeking an abortion will have to listen to the "fetal heartbeat" before they get access to the procedure, according to a new law in Hungary.

Under the new law, doctors must issue a report that says the pregnant woman was presented "with the factor indicating the functioning of fetal vital functions in an identifiable manner."

"It is a worrying step back, a bad sign," said Aron Demeter, spokesman for Amnesty International Hungary, told AFP. "This amendment achieves nothing, but will further traumatize women, put additional pressure on women who are already in a difficult place."

Women in Hungary get access to an abortion up until 12 weeks of pregnancy, sometimes later if there are severe health complications indicate so.