The change of course in EU financing being discussed at the summit in Brussels, may see future funds allotted to the Czech Republic cut by 24 percent and moreover tied to new priority areas such as climate change and innovation. How would such a shift impact the Czech Republic, which insists that its main investment priority is still road and rail infrastructure? I put the question to Ondřej Houska, a financial expert with the leading Czech daily Hospodářské noviny, who is following developments in Brussels.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš left for a key EU summit in Brussels, which is to shape the alliances’ finances in the coming years, in a fighting spirit. The Czech Republic, a member of the Friends of Cohesion group, faces a 24 percent cut in funds and will vehemently oppose the EU proposal to channel the bulk of a much smaller EU budget into new priorities, such as climate and innovation.
The vice president of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, has voiced
concerns regarding the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, describing them
as “fragile democracies”.
In an interview for the weekly Der Spiegel she said the so-called reform in Poland had affected all levels of the judiciary and had reached a very dangerous moment, because it could be irreversible. “The Polish reform is being carried out with the help of a crowbar.
In Hungary, this process is more subtle, but broader, because it also applies to the public media," Jourova noted.
Asked if the European Commission has a new strategy to deal with "countries that violate the rule of law," such as Poland or Hungary, the vice president of the EC replied that efforts were being made to solve these problems.
With Britain having just exited the EU, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček flew to Manchester on Friday to meet members of the local Czech community and discuss their concerns connected with Brexit. Mr Petříček started his trip by visiting a cemetery in Cheadle and Gatley, south of the city. Radio Prague’s Tom McEnchroe has been following the events on the ground and spoke to us on the phone on Friday morning:
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is in Brussels on Thursday to hold talks
with the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President
of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
Among the topics on the agenda will be the long-term perspective of the
European budget ahead of the extraordinary summit scheduled for February
Prior to his visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Babiš held talks with his Slovak counterpart Petr Pellegrini in Bratislava. Mr Babiš said after the meeting that he was against the current EU budget proposal for 2021-2027, which plans on cutting cohesion policy funding due to the impact of Brexit.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Visegrad Four counterparts met in
Prague on Thursday to discuss energy and climate change with Austrian
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
The V4 summit attended by the Austrian chancellor focussed on energy and EU climate change policy, areas where the positions of Austria and the V4 (which includes Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) differ significantly.
Unlike Austria, the V4 countries say achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is not possible without building more nuclear power plants.Austria does not like the idea that EU money paid to help phase-out coal mining and boost alternate energy sources should be used for nuclear power.
PM Babiš argues that in the interests of “energy security” and ecomomic growth, the Czech Republic must build new nuclear units even if it contravenes European Union law.
The talks also covered EU funding and migration where the heads of government found more common ground.They agreed on the need to fight illegal migration,rejected the idea of obligatory migrant quotas and stressed the importance of defending the EU's outer borders.
Since the talks were held on the anniversary of the death of student martyr Jan Palach, the prime ministers laid flowers at the Palach memorial at the top end of Wenceslas Square where Palach set himself on fire in protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet-led invasion.
The majority of Czechs do not want a referendum in which the country would
vote on whether to leave the EU.
In a poll conducted by the CVVM agency 54 percent of respondents said they would be against such a referendum being held; 30 percent would welcome it.
If it were to take place 21 percent of respondents said they would vote for Czexit while 45 percent would be against.
The Czech Republic will not be able to immediately apply a generalized
reversal of VAT liability for which Brussels has given EU member states
approval for a limited period. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who
fought for the reverse charge mechanism to be made possible for close to
five years on the argument that it could save the country billions of
crowns in unpaid VAT, said on Thursday the country needed more time to get
the respective legislation in place. He said the testing period until 2022
was too short and the country would ask for an extension.
The EU member states have been given the green light to apply the generalized reverse charge mechanism only for domestic supplies of goods and services above a threshold of 17, 500 euros (around 450,000 crowns) per transaction and only up until June 30, 2022, when the outcome of the exemption will be reviewed.
After a night of negotiations in Brussels, EU leaders, with the exception of Poland, have agreed to the European Commission’s Green Deal plan, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. One of those who can celebrate is Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who succeeded in having a provision under which some countries can add nuclear power to their energy mix added to the treaty.