The Czech Republic gained CZK 55.4 billion more from the European Union
budget than it paid in last year. The figure stems from data released by
the Czech Ministry of Finance on Wednesday.
In 2016 the country made a net gain of CZK 80.6 billion from the EU’s coffers. Ministry officials said this was because that year and in 2015 there was a cluster of payments from the 2007 to 2013 budget period.
The Czech Republic has been a net beneficiary in terms of funding every year since it joined the EU in 2004.
The speaker of the lower house of Parliament Radek Vondráček paid his
first working visit to Brussels on Tuesday, emphasizing the Czech
Republic’s pro-EU orientation in talks with EC President Jean-Claude
Juncker. Vondráček said it was essential to assure the European
Commission of the governing ANO party’s commitment to the EU.
The visit came just a day after Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš held one-on-one talks behind closed doors with the EC president on migrant-related issues and the EC’s decision to sue the Czech Republic for its reluctance to accept asylum seekers. He stressed the importance of communicating the Czech stand and seeking allies among EU member states.
Outgoing Czech prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš is due to take
part in a series of meetings with top European Union officials on Monday
afternoon and into the evening.
One of the meetings will be with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. The talks should focus on the future shape of the EU, including the make-up of various funds and the overall budget, as well as the thorny issue of migration.
The Czech Republic and other Central European countries have taken a stand against quotas aimed at distributing immigrants who mostly arrived in Italy and Greece.
Attending the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, outgoing Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, outlined his vision of a strong and united EU that would successfully preserve and develop what it had already achieved. Mr. Babiš is the first Czech top political leader to attend the forum in 18 years.
In his Christmas message to the nation, President Miloš Zeman highlighted the country’s economic successes, telling Czechs they had much to be proud of. As regards the country’s political future, Miloš Zeman ruled out early elections, telling politicians they would have to play the cards they had been dealt in the elections.
The European Commission has called on the Czech Republic to exclude
expenditures from the controversial Stork’s Nest project from an EU
programme for the Central Bohemia region. The Czech Ministry of Finance
says it will decide on the matter within two months. However, the
commission said on Friday that the Czech Republic would not be seeking the
sum in question from the EU. This would mean that the Czech state would end
up paying the CZK 50 million.
Eleven people were charged with the abuse of EU funds in connection with the Stork’s Nest farm and hotel complex. They include now-prime minister Andrej Babiš and his senior ANO colleague Jaroslav Faltýnek.
The pair have parliamentary immunity after being elected in October and the Czech lower house is to decide on whether to allow them to face trial in connection with the matter. They deny any wrongdoing.
Europe’s leading anti-immigration parties gathered in Prague at the weekend for a conference aimed at coordinating their policies and rallying anti-EU, anti-immigration forces on the continent. On their way into the heavily fortified hotel on the outskirts of Prague they were booed by hundreds of demonstrators chanting “shame” and “NO to fascism, populism and xenophobia”.
The newly-elected Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, went to the EU summit in Brussels with two priorities uppermost in mind: defending the country’s anti-migrant stance and gaining more allies in the block. However neither his arguments nor a financial pledge of 220 million euros in aid of the migrant crisis helped him to avert the threat of legal action from Brussels.