Press Releases S&Ds on conflict of interests: “Czech PM Babiš is undermining European values and deceiving European taxpayers”

S&Ds on conflict of interests: “Czech PM Babiš is undermining European values and deceiving European taxpayers”

The European Parliament adopted its resolution on the conflict of interests of the prime minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš. The Socialists and Democrats consider it unacceptable for a member of the European Council to abuse his position and make it possible to misuse EU funds. The resolution adopted by the MEPs comes as a result of a debate on the case held during the last plenary session in May 2021.

Lara Wolters MEP, S&D negotiator on the file, said:

“Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš is able to prop up his own businesses with public money. In doing that, he is undermining European values and deceiving European taxpayers. Every euro that ends up in the pockets of oligarchs is not being spent on solving our shared European challenges, such as investing in recovery from the pandemic. The position we, the members of the European Parliament, took today is a logical consequence of the audit report by the European Commission.

“We insist on a solution to this flagrant case, in the interests of the Czech people and European taxpayers. In this context it is even more unacceptable when Mr Babiš calls the auditors of the Commission “mafia”, let alone when he makes defamatory remarks against the media in the Czech Republic who are investigating this affair. The Commission should examine the possibility of triggering the rule of law conditionality mechanism if the Czech authorities do not act to stop the conflict of interests and protect the EU budget.”

Note to editors:

At the end of April 2021, the Commission (DG REGIO and DG EMPL) released its final audit report, which confirms the conflict of interest charges against the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš. This report is the result of an audit process on EU subsidies granted to the Agrofert Group, an agricultural conglomerate founded by Andrej Babiš.  The audit concluded the prime minister was still the beneficial owner of Agrofert despite having placed his assets into trust funds.  Meanwhile, his position as prime minister allowed him to exercise influence over the allocation of EU funds.

As a result, Babiš was found to be in violation of the Czech Conflict of Interests Act and the EU Financial Regulation. The payments awarded to Agrofert by the Czech authorities, pre-approved under EU subsidies (European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund grants), since September 2017 need to be repaid.

In December 2018, the Commission stopped EU grants to the Agrofert group related to the audit area while the EU Commission’s formal investigation was undertaken. The investigation into the Czech PM’s conflict of interests has been ongoing since January 2019. In June 2020, following the reopening of the case regarding the misuse of EU funds by Andrej Babiš, the Parliament issued a resolution calling on the Commission and the Council to give clear answers and commitments with regard to this unacceptable situation of conflict of interests

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