News & Analysis

European Commission says Czech PM in conflict of interest over EU funds

The European Commission has confirmed that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is in a conflict of interest over EU funds paid to his company Agrofert.

Opposition party leaders have called for a discussion in parliament next week, pushing for a vote of no-confidence in Mr Babiš’s government.

The prime minister reacted by denying everything and insisting that the EU report is the culmination of hysteria targeted against him, based on lies and disinformation.

“The Czech Republic will not have to return any subsidies. There is no reason to do so because I do not violate either Czech or EU rules on conflict of interest”, he wrote on Twitter. “And it would be good if the media stopped lying about it. Again, they are spreading lies.”

The Commission’s report comes just a week after EU parliamentary elections in which Mr Babiš’s party, ANO, won 21.2 per cent of the vote. Also, it comes after the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly opened an inquiry on the Commission’s refusal to grant full public access to documents relating to the case, believing that EU authorities might be withholding or delaying the release of information.

Justice Minister Marie Benešová, whose appointment has provoked huge protests all over the country because of her role in supporting Mr Babiš, said that there are no reasons not to trust the prime minister and reiterated the fact that the Czech Republic will not have to repay EU funds as a result.