Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš considers the European Parliament’s resolution, which condemns his alleged conflict of interests, to be an interference in the affairs of the Czech Republic and an attempt to influence the country’s parliamentary elections.
“It is a follow-up of the European Parliament’s interference in the internal affairs of the Czech Republic. We are a sovereign country, but there is a political battle. There will be elections, and the EP is trying to influence those elections. And, of course, the initiative comes from the Czech opposition, which organized this action there (in the EP),” Babiš told reporters on Thursday as he long denies that he would have a conflict of interest.
Babiš added that he had not yet studied the approved resolution in detail.
“If my sources are right, the resolution contains lies and slanders about the Czech Republic. I assume that ministers will review this and, as in the past, will react,” Babiš said, stressing that it is inaccessible for “someone from the EP” to judge the Czech justice system or other institutions.
The adopted resolution is a reaction to the April publication of the final audit report of the European Commission, according to which Babiš has a conflict of interest, as he controls the Agrofert holding even after he has put his shares in trust funds. Therefore, according to the Commission, the holding is not entitled to subsidies from EU structural funds. Babiš disagrees with this conclusion, though. He claims that he complied with the Czech act on conflict of interest by transferring the company into trust funds.
The legally non-binding resolution, calling on the European Union institutions and the Czech authorities to take a more vigorous approach to subsidies for the Agrofert holding, was supported by 505 MEPs. There were 30 MEPs against and 15 abstentions.
After returning from his business trip to Austria, President Miloš Zeman said that he does not take the European Parliament’s resolution too seriously, as it is legally non-binding.
Babiš, as the owner of Agrofert, put the holding in trust funds because of his involvement in politics. MEPs call on the Czech authorities to protect Czech taxpayers’ money and force Agrofert to repay all unduly paid subsidies. According to European legislators, Czechia should also create a fairer and more transparent EU subsidy distribution system. The current rules do not make it possible to identify the final recipients of subsidies and have led to the “creation and growth of large oligarchic structures,” MEPs claim.
Title image: Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Andrej Babis walks to address lawmakers during a parliament session in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, June 3, 2021. The Czech coalition government led by populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis is facing a parliamentary no-confidence vote during the session. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)