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Gov’t Office plans steps to prevent MEPs’ rebellions

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Prague, March 21 (CTK) – The Czech Government Office plans to improve the exchange of information between the prime minister, ministers and MEPs in order to prevent embarrassing situations where Czech MEPs vote against Prague’s positions in the EP, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday.

In February, Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) MEPs voted against the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA) in the EP, though CETA was previously repeatedly supported by Czech Prime Minister and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka.

CETA finally made it through the EP, but Sobotka was taken by surprise at the resistance of his own party’s MEPs, the daily writes.

This was not the first “rebellion” of CSSD MEPs. In April 2015, they voted for the introduction of mandatory refugee allocation quotas though the Czech government was clearly against them.

Similarly, the Czech government opposed a complete ban on the use of glyphosates, a substance that is part of pesticides, but the CSSD MEPs supported the ban in an EP vote.

Apart from the CSSD, rebels also appear among the MEPs from other Czech parties now and then, LN writes.

Last July, the MEPs for ANO and TOP 09 supported a proposal to financially punish the EU countries that show insufficient solidarity in accepting migrants within the EU redistribution system.

Such unpleasant situations, where Czech MEPs vote counter to their own government, are to be prevented by a new strategy of improving the exchange of information between the government and MEPs. Its another goal is to early unveil the situations where the Czech MEPs are ready to “sink” the Czech cabinet in EP votes, LN writes.

The strategy, embedded in a five-point document, improves the government’s knowledge about the legislation on the agenda, planned steps and generally, about the atmosphere inside individual EP groups, Tomas Prouza, the outgoing state secretary for EU affairs, told the daily.

The document provides for the MEPs receiving the government and ministries’ positions on various issues before the EP votes on them. In addition, a team of “liaison officers” will be established to work as fast liaisons, the paper writes.

Czech MEPs often lack prompt information from the ministries in Prague, it writes.

“Sometimes we receive the government’s positions only narrowly before the EP plenary session takes a vote. I and my colleagues are often the MEPs-rapporteurs who introduce pieces of legislation in the EP, and we need to know Prague’s position in advance,” MEP Martina Dlabajova, from the Czech government ANO movement, is quoted as saying.

The voting discrepancies seem to have diminished of late. In early March, only one of the 21 Czech MEPs, Ludek Niedermayer (TOP 09), voted for a directive restricting the possession of firearms in spite of the Czech government’s negative position, LN writes.

However, Sobotka might face a trouble in another area that is crucial to him. It is his crusade against the supranational retail chains that offer identical products with a different quality in various EU states. Not all Czech MEPs across the political spectrum are willing to consent to the regulation of the free market, LN writes.

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