Andrej Babis


Government to Re-evaluate use of EU Funds in Wake of Babis Stork Nest Scandal

Prague, Jan 29 (CTK) – The Czech government will evaluate the use of European funds next Wednesday, assessing which programmes are badly used, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told journalists before leaving for talks with the European Commission in Brussels today.


Babis said he wanted to discuss the new definition of EU funds and a bigger flexibility in the distribution of EU means on the national level.


He said investments should be stressed within the talks on the EU budget.


“We have agreed that on February 7, we will be evaluating the use of European funds within the government,” Babis said, adding that the ministers were to say which programmes were used badly or not at all and whether they should be changed.


Babis said a big attention should be paid to the use of the EU funds because the Czech Republic was lagging behind in this sphere in the long run.


The government should set down its priorities after 2020 in a national strategy that it was to discuss for the first time by the end of the year.


Babis said he wanted the Czech Republic to influence more the use of the unspent money or transfer it from the badly defined programmes to those which had no more money.


He said this was why he wanted to discuss a change in the definition of European funds in Brussels.


National states also should have a bigger say in the distribution of money among the individual subsidy programmes because they are more able to judge where the money is needed.


“We will insist on having more powers,” Babis said.


Babis said within the preparation of the trip to Brussels, he had spoken with Finance Minister Alena Schillerova, Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaroslava Nemcova and Regional Development Minister Klara Dostalova (all ANO).


“We should try to have our ideas approved,” Babis said about the negotiations on the budget.


He criticised the large pause between the negotiations about the structure of the fund and their use.


Babis is scheduled to meet European Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.


“It is vital for us to know when Britain leaves and who will actually pay for the Brexit to the EU,” he added.


He also wants to discuss the prepared reform of asylum policy and migrant redistribution quotas. The quotas are absurd, he added.


“I will try to argue that insisting on them is nonsense and that we are ready to express solidarity by helping financially or materially,” Babis said.


Babis is also to meet Czech European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourova, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and its first deputy chairman Frans Timmermans.