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EP calls on European Commission to act on case of Czech PM

The European Parliament has approved a resolution calling on the European Commission to suspend all EU subsidies to companies belonging to the Agrofert conglomerate founded by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš until the question of whether he de facto retains control over it is settled.

The debate in the European Parliament focussed on whether Babiš, who as prime minister can influence the disbursal of both Czech and EU subsidies, has a conflict of interest despite having placed Agrofert in trust funds.

MEPs also discussed subsidies that Slovak-born billionaire Babiš’s agribusiness group is alleged to have abused, especially to finance the so-called “Stork’s nest” project, control of which was allegedly transferred from Agrofert temporarily a decade ago solely to receive EU subsidies meant for small businesses.

Regional development minister: EU subsidy freeze will not affect other businesses

The call for the suspension of EU subsidies to companies belonging to the Agrofert conglomerate founded by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš does not concern any other businesses in the country, Minister for Regional Development Klára Dostálová said at a press briefing in Prague on Thursday. The Ministry for Regional Development coordinates the distribution of EU funds.

The leader of the coalition Social Democratic Party, Jan Hamáček, said the government would debate the situation around Agrofert at its next session.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has announced it will send a team of auditors to the Czech Republic to look into the distribution of EU subsidies from 2007 until the present day.

Army and police most trusted institutions in the country

The army and police enjoy a high level of public trust, according to a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. Both received a 67 percent trust rating. The judiciary got a 58 percent trust rating.

Trust in NGOs and the media is significantly lower, with only 48 percent of Czechs saying they trust information broadcast on the radio, the press received a 38 percent trust rating, while television 40 percent.

Only 37 percent of Czechs trust NGOs, which the polling agency says may be linked to the migrant crisis. The country’s churches are bottom of the ladder with a 25 percent trust rating.

Adverse weather complicating traffic

Heavy snow, strong winds and icy roads have been complicating traffic around the country. Traffic police have reported heavy congestion along the D1 highway from Prague to Brno, where long queues have formed along several stretches of the road from Central Bohemia to the Vysočina region.Drivers have been warned not to set out on this route, if possible, until the situation has improved.

Many roads in the mountain regions have not yet been cleared and drivers heading for ski resorts have been warned to exercise extreme caution.

Viktoria Plzeň secure Europa League spot with 2-1 win over AS Roma

Czech football club Viktoria Plzeň have secured a place in the Europa League with a 2-1 victory over AS Roma in the Champions League. Former national team coach Pavel Vrba’s charges were able to finish Group G with third place in the victory over Roma, enough to qualify for the Europa League.

Tomáš Chorý scored the winner with a diving header after Cengiz Ünder had cancelled out Jan Kovařík’s opener – with all three goals coming in the second half of the match, over a 16-minute span.

For AS Roma, even before the last group match on Wednesday a spot in the European top class was clear. Meanwhile, in the second match of Group G, CSKA Moscow handed Real Madrid the Spanish club’s worst ever European home loss.

CSKA need to better Plzeň’s result in the Czech Republic in order to finish third, with both teams already out of contention for the Champions League knockout stage.

Weather forecast

Friday should be partly cloudy to overcast with snow showers and day temperatures between 0 and -4 degrees Celsius.