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February 23, 2018 8:11 pm | FILED UNDER: europe

PM Babis Wants Bigger Say On Head Of European Commission

By ČTK Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis

Prague/Brussels, Feb 23 (CTK) – A new head of the European Commission (EC) should be chosen by EU states’ presidents and PMs from among the 27 members of the next EC, Czech PM Andrej Babis said today, adding that Prague is against the EC head to arise through the system of leading candidates in the EU elections.

 

Babis was speaking to journalists on departure for the EU informal summit in Brussels, where the method of the EC head choice will be one of the points on the agenda.

 

The present method of candidates being chosen by the European political parties was applied in 2014 for the first time.

 

At the time, the political groups in the European Parliament, which confirms the European Council’s nominee in a vote, made it clear beforehand that they would support no one else than the “lead candidate”, who was the European People’s Party (EPP) representative Jean-Claude Juncker at the time.

 

The presidents and prime ministers gave in and really proposed Juncker for EC president. Only representatives of Britain and Hungary opposed the step.

 

Babis called a similar procedure “a strange method” of choice.

 

“It would be logical, as 27 member countries each have its [EU] commissioner, that the best of them be chosen by the prime ministers and presidents,” Babis said.

 

He said the debate will not be closed today, when participants in the summit will only acquaint their partners with their respective countries’ positions on the issue.

 

Apart from the institutional questions, the summit will also discuss the EU’s budget for 2021-2027.

 

The Czech Republic, which will remain a net recipient of EU money, plans to reject, in the upcoming debate, the quality of the rule of law and of the judicial system, and countries’ cooperation in the migrant policy as conditions for drawing EU money.

 

“I am sceptical about this. The EC should be depoliticised, I think it should not interfere in such issues,” Babis said.

 

In Brussels, Babis’s programme starts with his breakfast with another eight EU prime ministers belonging to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group.

 

At a conference on the support for sub-Saharan countries, he will say that the Czech government offers one million euros to the trust fund for Africa for now as a contribution to fighting migrant smugglers.

 

Prague wants to provide a total of four million crowns to the fund this year.

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