A three-year legal battle came to an end on Tuesday when the Czech Republic’s highest court rejected a challenge to a conflict of interest law. The legislation was dubbed “lex Babiš” for seeming to target the billionaire prime minister. However, judges denied it placed excessive restrictions on Mr. Babiš or other public officials.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is in Brussels on Thursday to hold talks
with the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President
of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
Among the topics on the agenda will be the long-term perspective of the
European budget ahead of the extraordinary summit scheduled for February
Prior to his visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Babiš held talks with his Slovak counterpart Petr Pellegrini in Bratislava. Mr Babiš said after the meeting that he was against the current EU budget proposal for 2021-2027, which plans on cutting cohesion policy funding due to the impact of Brexit.
The electronic cash register system, known as EET, is expected to bring
some CZK 15.2 billion into state coffers this year, Finance Minister Alena
Schillerová said on Thursday.
Some CZK 2.4 billion out of the total will come from the extension of EET’s online reporting requirements, approved this May, to professions that were not yet subject to it, including craftsmen, doctors, lawyers and taxi drivers.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš introduced the EET in 2016, when he was serving as finance minister, to counter the grey economy and tax fraud.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš joined world leaders from 49 countries at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Israel, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. During the visit the prime minister held a series of bilateral negotiations and met with Czech Holocaust survivors.
The Czech transport minister has been sacked for mismanaging a tender to operate a new online system of motorway vignette sales. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš moved swiftly on Monday to stop a 400-million crown deal going ahead, accepting an offer from IT specialists who said they would work for free to produce a fully functional online sales system by next Monday.
The European Parliament’s group the European People’s Party wants to
initiate a new anti-oligarch law to assure a fairer distribution of EU
money. Among other things, it criticizes the dual role of Czech Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš who is involved in EU budget negotiations on behalf
of his country and at the same time, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of
EU funds in the Czech Republic.
Speaking at a plenary debate on the case of Andrej Babiš’ conflict of interest earlier this week, MEP Monika Hohlmeier, Chairwoman of the Budgetary Control Committee, pointed out that the Agrofert company linked to the Czech Prime Minister is one of the biggest Czech recipients of agricultural fund.
“What we see in the Czech Republic and some other member states is that a couple of oligarchs profit from EU funds at the expense of Czech and other European taxpayers. This is why the EPP Group will initiate a new anti-oligarch law on how a fairer distribution of EU money can be guaranteed,” she said.
Mrs Hohlmeier is due to visit the Czech Republic in February as part of a mission to assess the country’s management of EU funds.
The Czech Republic and Austria enjoy good bilateral relations despite
differences in the perception of nuclear energy, Czech Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told journalists
following bilateral talks in Prague on Thursday.
The heads of government found common ground on a number of issues including migration, security and business and trade.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz noted at their joint press briefing that the Czech Republic is Austria's largest and most important trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe.
Earlier in the day he attended a meeting with the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary) to discuss climate and energy issues.
Chancellor Kurz made it clear that Austria did not like the idea that EU subsidies intended to help member states phase-out coal mining and boost alternate energy sources should be used for nuclear energy.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Visegrad Four counterparts met in
Prague on Thursday to discuss energy and climate change with Austrian
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
The V4 summit attended by the Austrian chancellor focussed on energy and EU climate change policy, areas where the positions of Austria and the V4 (which includes Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) differ significantly.
Unlike Austria, the V4 countries say achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is not possible without building more nuclear power plants.Austria does not like the idea that EU money paid to help phase-out coal mining and boost alternate energy sources should be used for nuclear power.
PM Babiš argues that in the interests of “energy security” and ecomomic growth, the Czech Republic must build new nuclear units even if it contravenes European Union law.
The talks also covered EU funding and migration where the heads of government found more common ground.They agreed on the need to fight illegal migration,rejected the idea of obligatory migrant quotas and stressed the importance of defending the EU's outer borders.
Since the talks were held on the anniversary of the death of student martyr Jan Palach, the prime ministers laid flowers at the Palach memorial at the top end of Wenceslas Square where Palach set himself on fire in protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet-led invasion.
A meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday addressed the
conflict between Iran and the United States following the killing of
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said after the meeting that Czech police
officers, soldiers and civilians in Iraq were safe, adding that the Czech
Republic had funds at hand for their possible evacuation from the country.
The Czech Army currently has around 40 soldiers and police officers in Iraq mainly working to train Iraqi security forces to fight against the ISIS militia.
According to the general chief of staff, they will remain stationed in Iraq but increased security measures will be taken to ensure their safety.