Petr Dubinsky

EU Set To Approve Czech Recovery Plan

The European Commission will complete the evaluation of the Czech recovery plan on Monday at the latest, on the basis of which the Czechia will receive approximately 180 billion crowns from the extraordinary pandemic fund. 

“It is practically done, it will be official on Monday,” one of the sources for approving the Czech investment strategy. The head of the EU executive, who is touring all the countries with approved plans and is visiting Ireland today, will head to the Czech capital on Monday, where she will negotiate with Babiš.

“We should visit the State Opera together and have a press conference at the National Museum, which is a symbol of our history,” Babiš said. “The individual ministries in charge of those chapters have the task of listing programs as soon as possible,” he said. He described the programs for healthcare as “great”. “De facto, we get up to 50 billion in our healthcare system. If we compare it with the current program, there are only eight billion,” the prime minister added.

“I am only sorry that I was third in the chair with the first proposal, but within the coalition negotiations and the tripartite it took a very long time and it is approved only now,” Babiš stated.

The European Commission has already approved the plans of more than half of the member states. A total of 12 of them were confirmed this week by the finance ministers of the member states, who give their final consent to the distribution of money from the fund. However, the ministers will not meet in August, and the Czech plan will probably not get the final green until September, when the country can expect the first money. EU countries can still get 13 percent of their share in the fund as part of pre-financing projects.

Brussels always has two months to assess the plans of individual countries, which the Czechia submitted to the Commission at the beginning of June. In particular, the Commission monitors whether the strategy meets more than a dozen criteria required by the European Union for the distribution of money from an unprecedented package of more than 700 billion euros (over 18 trillion crowns). At least 37 percent of the money should go to climate-friendly projects and a fifth to digitization.

The Czech plan is divided into six main areas, which should be financed from it. The main part of the money is intended for infrastructure and environmental projects, for which, according to the Minister of Industry Karel Havlíček, 41 percent of the total amount will go. 23 percent will go to digitization. Additional money is earmarked for education and the labor market, development and innovation, business support and health.

The money should, in principle, help EU countries kick-start their economies after the coronavirus crisis, while at least partially coping with the transition to a climate-friendly economy, in which the commission wants to charge for road transport or building heating or stop selling internal combustion cars.

The largest recipients of money from the fund are to be Italy and Spain, which, as the countries most affected by last year’s first wave of the pandemic, will together receive over 260 billion euros. Their plans, like the German, French or Slovak ones, are among the first groups approved by the finance ministers. On the contrary, Hungary has been waiting for an above-standard period for the approval of the commission, where Brussels has doubts about the problems of corruption in public procurement.