European Parliament Condemns Babis Over Conflicts Of Interest

In a critical resolution, the European Parliament unequivocally condemned the Czech Prime Minister for his connection with the Agrofert Group. Of the 690 voters, 505 raised their hands in favor of the text, 30 were against and 15 abstained.

Among those who abstained were mainly members of the liberal group Renew Europe, which has 98 representatives and includes ANO representatives. The faction’s recommendation for a vote was just that – abstain.

On the contrary, ODS representatives sitting in the conservative ECR faction split. While Alexandr Vondra and Veronika Vrecionová supported the resolution, Jan Zahradil and Evžen Tošenovský abstained.

In the resolution, the legislators criticize the fact that Andrej Babiš has a conflict of interest and call on the European Commission to inform them how specifically the Czech government wants to correct shortcomings in the system of preventing and resolving situations where the decision-maker on subsidies is also their final recipient.

According to MEPs, Andrej Babiš should not decide on issues of the European budget or agricultural payments. He should either not take part in EU leaders’ discussions on these matters or he should resign. MEPs also call for Agrofert not to receive any payments from the European budget, including untouched direct agricultural payments, as long as Andrej Babiš’s conflict of interest persists.

Babiš disagrees with this conclusion and claims that by transferring the company to the funds he complied with the Czech law on conflict of interest.

However, MEPs go much further than just a conflict of interest over Babiš’s connection to Agrofert. They call on the commission, given this situation and Babiš’s influence on the media and the Czech judiciary, to assess whether the rule of law is functioning in the Czech Republic. If doubts are confirmed, a procedure should be initiated that could lead to a halt in all subsidies for the entire Czechia. “If these breaches (of the rule of law) are confirmed, the Commission should activate the cross-compliance mechanism to protect the Union’s budget,” the statement said in a key sentence.

A similar vote took place last June. At that time, 510 deputies raised their hands for a critical resolution, 53 were against and 101 abstained. Andrej Babiš’s number of supporters decreased compared to last year because there are 23 fewer who were against the resolution. On the contrary, the majority of “Babiš’s” faction was in favor of a resolution last year, this year the Liberals abstained.