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June 7, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: europe

European Commission Criticises Babis’s Civil Service Law

By ČTK Andrej Babis

Prague, June 7 (CTK) – The European Commission criticised the government-sponsored draft amendment to the Czech civil service law and it showed concern about key points in the amendment in a letter sent to the Interior Ministry which proposed the changes, the Czech Radio (CRo) public broadcaster said today.

 

Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and other state institutions previously claimed that the EC had no reservations about the plan to amend the civil service law.

 

The amendment is now discussed in the lower house of Czech parliament.

 

According to the government, the amendment aims to open civil service to experts from non-state sectors and make sacking of senior officials easier based on a new assessment system.

 

In its letter addressed to Deputy Interior Minister for Civil Service, Josef Postranecky, the EC calls on the Interior Ministry to present all relevant documents that support the proposed changes.

 

The EC said the changes in the civil service law are an important process that needs to be transparent according to the Partnership Agreement. The Czech Republic cannot draw subsidies from EU funds unless it meets the Partnership Agreement, the EC added.

 

The Interior Ministry declared that the drawing of EU subsidies was not threatened and it sent arguments supporting the amendment to the EC.

 

The EC challenged “rather low requirements” in second rounds of tenders for managerial posts, the possibility to sack managers whose work is considered satisfactory and clerks based on two assessments issued within 40 days, CRo reported.

 

The trade unions said the amendment would weaken the position of civil servants and their independence.

 

The political opposition said the government would be able to easily get rid of those who did not share its opinions thanks to the amendment.

 

The ANO minority cabinet led by Babis, which failed to win confidence of the lower house and keeps ruling the country pending the appointment of a new government, abolished dozens of posts, including those of deputy ministers.

 

The EC reacted to this in its letter, saying that the number of high officials sacked after the appointment of Babis’s government indicated that the civil service law did not effectively guarantee the depoliticisation of the civil service.

 

However, the EC admitted that there were administrative obstacles that complicate the hiring of experts in the Czech Republic.

 

According to the Czech branch of the Transparency International (TI) organisation, Babis’s government said it abolished 23 posts but it was minimally 37 posts.

 

The civil service law has been effective since 2015 and it was adopted also to meet the demands set by the EC. Its aim was to depoliticise civil service. In 2017, the law was amended.

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