The European Union needs a strong and viable asylum system, the Czech and
Finnish heads of government Andrej Babis and Juha Sipila agreed during
their talks in Helsinki on Monday.
The two officials said migration was an issue on which the EU badly needed to reach consensus and stressed that migrant quotas were obviously not the answer. The two heads of government said they also had a similar take on EU budget issues, post Brexit.
The Czech Prime Minister is also scheduled to attend the Czech-Finnish business forum and sign a memorandum on Czech accession to the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which has been operating in Helsinki since April 2017.
Before his departure, Mr Babiš told journalists he would also like to visit a Finnish primary school and university to find inspiration for Czech school reform.
The latest step in the lengthy search for a Czech government has got underway, with members of the Social Democrats voting in an internal referendum on whether to go into coalition with ANO. However, there is some opposition to such a move within the left-wing party – and the result of the balllot won’t be known until mid-June.
An internal referendum of the Social Democrats on whether to take part in a
coalition government with ANO gets underway on Monday. The referendum,
which will run until June 14, will be valid if at least a quarter of the
party membership takes part. The results will be published on June 15.
The Social Democrats last week announced the names of the party’s nominees for the five portfolios the Social Democrats should get in the cabinet. The names included party leader Jan Hamáček, who should head the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The party also insists on Miroslav Poche’s candidature for the post of foreign minister, despite president Zeman’s disapproval.
The Social Democrats have been deeply divided about forming a government with ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who is facing criminal charges for alleged EU subsidy fraud, and the result of the referendum is expected to be tight.
On Friday afternoon Prime Minister Babiš is to hold talks with Austrian
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Vienna. The two heads of cabinet are to
discuss Austria’s upcoming EU presidency, the debate on a new EU budget,
migration and bilateral relations.
On Sunday, the Czech prime minister will visit Finland for talks with his Finnish counterpart Juha Sipila.
Mr. Babiš has stressed the need for the Czech Republic to be more vocal in the EU and more active in defending the country’s interests as well as seeking new allies in the bloc.
Attending the Globsec Security Forum in Bratislava on Friday, Czech Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš criticized the concept of a two-speed European
The Czech prime minister said that the fact that different EU member states needed to go at their own pace in reaching the common goal should not be a divisive factor and should not be allowed to impede the functioning of the common market.
Babiš argued that an elite club would only undermine EU unity and that debates relating to the future of the European Union should be open to all members, without regard to their economic pace and degree of integration.
The Social Democratic Party leadership meets on Friday to agree on its
ministerial line-up in the emerging coalition government with ANO. Under
the agreement reached, the Social Democrats should be in charge of the
ministry of the interior, foreign affairs, labour, agriculture and the
Although the Social Democrats and ANO are finalizing the details of the new coalition government, the agreement could still be scuppered by a referendum in the Social Democratic Party which is to vote on whether to enter into a coalition with ANO. The result of the vote should be made public in mid-June.
Czech prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš has had an uphill battle but now appears on the verge of sealing a coalition government deal more than six months after elections. But as talk turns to the composition of a possible ANO-Social Democrat Cabinet, the ANO leader is facing the prospect that many of his veteran ministers quitting the political scene.
Czech defence minister Karla Šlechtová has warned that she does not
necessarily have to be in a new government headed by current prime minister
and ANO leader Andrej Babiš.
Šlechtová’s comments follow revelations in Wednesday’s edition of the daily Lidové Noviny that she paid hundreds of thousands of crowns for the use of the VIP airport lounges at Prague’s airport in her previous post as minister for regional development.
Šlechtová has accused the newspaper, which is owned by Babiš, of waging a campaign against her.
The minister was in recent months frequently floated as an alternative ANO leader who might be tasked with creating a new government if Babiš failed.
The Czech government has turned down a proposal from the lower house of
parliament aimed at boosting legal aid to the poor. The proposal from the
communist party that the state meets at least part of the costs of civil
cases for the poor was turned down.
The communist party has repeatedly backed the move in the past. The government also rejected a proposal from the STAN party aimed at boosting clients’ rights when changing foreign currency. It would have given them the right to back out of transactions within two hours.
And a proposal from the same party allowing high placed government officials to remain on regional councils was also rejected.
The ANO-appointed minister of transport, Dan Ťok, has announced that he
does "not much" wish to be a member of a new government that
acting the prime minister, Andrej Babiš, is attempting to form, Czech
Television reported on Wednesday.
Mr. Ťok joins the minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, and the minister of foreign affairs, Martin Stropnický, in signalling an intention not to continue serving under Mr. Babiš. The transport chief is due to annouce a definitive decision on his future by the end of the week.