Wednesday, 22 May 2019

FT: PM Babiš demands that EU return powers to national states

20 July 2018

London, July 19 (CTK) - The European Union needs a reform and powers must return from Brussels to national capitals, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) said in an interview with the The Financial Times (FT) daily published on Thursday.

He rejected the allegations about democracy being threatened in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Babis, whose minority coalition government of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) won confidence of the Chamber of Deputies last week, confirmed his cabinet's firm opposition to the refugee quotas, that is the redistribution of migrants across the EU.

"We cannot accept all the migrants from the planet. If you had the centres inside Europe, then who will decide where these people will go? Who will give them asylum?" Babis told the Financial Times, arguing that the EU should instead focus on securing its borders and providing aid in the countries refugees were fleeing.

Babis is of the view that the EU must make a deal with north African countries, such as Libya and Tunisia, similar to the agreement it had signed with Turkey, and help the potential refugees in their respective countries, in Syria, Nigeria and others.

"This should be the way to solve this problem," he said.

Babis dismissed the suggestions that democracy was under threat in the Czech Republic or in Hungary and Poland. "The people are free to vote, and if they are not satisfied with politicians in Hungary or Poland they will change them," he said.

The paper points out that billionaire businessman Babis faces problems in connection with his business activities and he is prosecuted on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.

"I read in the newspapers that I am quite rich. No one can corrupt me. It's bullshit, just lies," he told FT.

Babis described himself in the interview as a "definitely pro-European" politician and he emphasised that he had resisted a push by the Czech opposition parties for a referendum to be held on the country's EU membership.

However, he said the EU needed reforming, and that power should be returned to national capitals.

"The key principle should be that the EU does less and more efficiently. No more nonsense rules. Legislation should be smart and better. Over-regulation kills innovation and business," Babis told the Financial Times.

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