The text concerns the “reopening of the investigations against the Czech Prime Minister on the misuse of EU funds and potential conflicts of interest“. A matter that dates back to 2018, when it emerged that the agri-food giant Agrofert, of which Babiš is the founder, had received million euros of funds intended for the agri-food sector. Over the years, the story has rebounded on the benches of the various European bodies, also characterized by serious episodes, such as threats reported by EU delegation come to Prague in February 2020 to carry out checks on the redistribution of funds.
Babiš in the best case, European forces say, is in a situation of full conflict of interest since, as prime minister, “he is actively involved in the implementation of the EU budget in Czech Republic, while still controlling the Agrofert group as founder and sole beneficiary of two trusts“. Parliament, therefore, “welcomes the reopening of the criminal investigation which concerns the Czech Prime Minister for his involvement in the project ‘Stork’s Nest’ (Capi Hnizdo, a conference center owned by one of the companies of the Agrofert group since 2007 and on which the Czech authorities are investigating to determine whether the 2 million EU funds received have been obtained improperly, ed) “And” is confident that the Czech judiciary will proceed independently and without any possible political influence “.
The problem, MEPs stress, however, is not only the management of the Babiš affair, which is anything but willing to give up the funds for the company he founded, but also and above all the inefficiency of the control bodies on management and redistribution. At the national level, the classroom underlines that “serious deficiencies in management and control systems in the area of regional and cohesion funds in the Czech Republic” have been identified and expresses concern that the Court of Auditors country cannot regularly check the correctness of public expenditure at “regional and local” level. Without forgetting that the advice of the State fund for agricultural interventions has one politically unbalanced composition.
But the shortcomings also exist and especially at European level. It is no coincidence that the members of the plenary ask the EU Commission to create a control mechanism that “actively” avoids conflicts of interest, even “identifying the final beneficiaries of EU aid “, as well as” zero tolerance “towards offenders.
Furthermore, Parliament “strongly disapproves” of the creation of “oligarchic structures which draw on EU agricultural and cohesion funds “and then stresses that, at central level in Brussels, the system of distribution and verification of EU funds is “Opaque and complex”, so much so that “the European Commission is unable to provide Parliament with a precise picture when asked about certain payments in different Member States”. In particular, “no regulation on the use of agricultural and cohesion funds” imposes the obligation to publish the “ultimate beneficiary” of a company or entity that obtains the funds.
MEPs “insist that a conflict of interest at the highest level of the government of a Member State, if confirmed, cannot be tolerated and must be resolved by the people involved”, or by taking measures such that they no longer have economic interests in the company, or avoiding that the company receives “any funding from EU funds, public subsidies or funds distributed by the national government”.
But there is another aspect that worries the Brussels parliamentarians, that is clash between the delegation of parliamentarians who went to the Czech Republic at the end of February to carry out checks and examine the use of EU funds by the country and the Prime Minister himself, as part of the new investigation opened in October 2019 by the Eurocamera and the budget control commission. The group, made up of six members of the commission and chaired by the German MEP Monika Hohlmeier, as soon as he arrived he had a very hard argument with the Prime Minister. An exchange of accusations that then also moved to the press. “Just arrived – says a source close to the delegation a Ilfattoquotidiano.it – Babiš has defined us traitors is crazy people, remembering that i 30 thousand euros shipping costs were European citizens’ money. ”
Hohlmeier then explained to the premier that this was the maximum amount made available, but that she herself had arrived in Prague from Germany with his car. And, sources said, he then counterattacked: “Can you boast of our own transparency?”. Back in Brussels, then, the deputies reported on “Words of hate” by the prime minister, so much so that one of the members of the delegation turned to the police. “We strongly condemn the public use of defamatory language and hatred towards the participants in the mission by the Prime Minister – concludes the resolution of the Parliament – We find it unacceptable that the members of Parliament who took part in the mission of the Budgetary Control Committee in the Czech Republic have received death threats and other verbal attacks while doing their job. ”