A European Commission auditing review has confirmed that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš breached domestic and EU conflict of interest legislation. The report, dated October 22 and seen by Politico, finds that Babiš controls the Agrofert conglomerate — which includes a wide range of companies in the agri-food sector — despite having transferred his assets into two trust funds in 2017 after a Czech transparency law was passed.
The European Commission sent 30 ventilators from its rescEU stockpile Thursday to the Czech Republic as it struggles with the worst rate of coronavirus infections in Europe. “Czechia is facing one of the most difficult situations in Europe right now,” as cases are “rising rapidly,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote in a press release. The country “needs medical equipment to treat patients in hospitals.”
Critics say Andrej Babiš’ ties to major agricultural conglomerate already make it hard to buy food not somehow linked to PM.
A simmering feud between the Czech Republic’s capital city and China risks boiling over, with Beijing warning Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib to stop undermining relations between the two countries — or else. On Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news conference in Beijing that Hřib and his city administration had taken measures that affected China’s sovereignty and interests, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
The Czech Republic is an apt arena for the political battle between Europhiles and Euroskeptics, and last week it became just that. For both pro- and anti-EU forces, the Czech Republic is a key battleground. In no other member country — with the possible exception of the U.K. — is EU membership a bigger point of dispute.
A chemical company that forms part of a conglomerate founded by Czech PM Andrej Babiš is poised to get approval for continuing to produce a dangerous substance, despite protests from environmental groups. The company, DEZA, has also made liberal use of the courts in protecting its business — suing the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) numerous times over attempts to regulate chemicals it produces or release information about their safety.
Two EU leaders said Thursday they would like the U.K. to hold another referendum on Brexit — despite Theresa May specifically ruling out that possibility. “We would like the almost impossible to happen … that the U.K. has another referendum,” Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
A watchdog group has lodged a complaint with the European Commission over concerns that Czech PM Andrej Babiš may be violating EU budget conflict-of-interest rules. In an open letter, Transparency International’s Czech chapter argued Wednesday that although Babiš, who built a business empire before entering politics, is no longer the formal owner of conglomerate Agrofert, he is still “the founder and 100% end-user of benefits” of the two trusts overseeing the firm.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš rails against EU migrant quotas, accuses the bloc of being too ponderous and objects to Paris, Berlin and the European Commission calling all the shots. But his message to Brussels is: I’m the best you’re gonna get.
He’s a septuagenarian who dislikes Muslims, the media and migrants and loves Vladimir Putin. He’s detested by urban dwellers and liberal elites who see him as a national embarrassment and a menace to values they hold dear. And he’s just won his second term as president.