Daily news summary
EC audit on Czech PM final
The European Commission has rejected Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s claim that the EC audit into his alleged conflict of interest, which arrived in the Czech Republic on Friday, is not final. A European Commission spokesman made it clear on Monday that the document is final and the Czech Republic has two months to respond to the EC’s recommendations. The audit, which has been sent to the Ministry for Regional Development, remains confidential.
However, according to the weekly Respect, which cites two independent sources, the EC’s final audit states that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest both under Czech and EU law and the Czech Republic may subsequently have to return some 450 million crowns in EU subsidies paid to his Agrofert business conglomerate.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš insists that he has fully adhered to the country’s conflict of interest law, by placing the multi-billion crown conglomerate he owns into trust funds. He said on Monday that the EC did not have the right to interpret Czech legislation and if the audit claimed he had a conflict of interest the Czech Republic would fight it.
Foreign Minister Petříček expects government to be briefed on audit result
The Regional Development Ministry should inform the Czech government about the results of the European Commission audit on the prime minister’s possible conflict of interest, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček told journalists on Monday. He said the ministry should also brief the cabinet on how it was going to proceed in the case.
Although the audit is confidential, Minister Petříček said he believes the public has the right to be informed about its possible consequences for the Czech Republic.
Pirate Party calling for coordinated response to EC audit
The head of the Pirate Party Ivan Bartoš has called for a meeting of all parliamentary party leaders, with the exception of the prime minister’s ANO party, to discuss the impact of the EC audit on the Czech Republic. He said the parties should coordinate their further steps in the matter.
The Pirate Party has called for the audit to be made public and for it to be debated in both houses of Parliament.
Czech foreign minister: taking in child migrants would not endanger society
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has expressed the view that taking in a certain number of unaccompanied child asylum seekers from Greek refugee camps would not undermine the Czech Republic’s negative stance to mandatory migrant quotas and its consistent position on the matter.
The minister said that, in his personal opinion, accepting 40 unaccompanied minors would not endanger the country’ security, given the fact that it had taken in over a thousand asylum seekers from the Balkans in the past.
However he said the ball was now in Athens’s court and if the Greek authorities produced a list of potential child refugees, it would be up to the Czech government to decide.
Both Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček have frowned on the idea, stressing that the Czech Republic prefers helping migrants in their country of origin.
Transition to new tolling system smooth
The new tolling system which came in force in the Czech Republic as of midnight, December 1st, has not created any significant traffic complications, the ctk news agency reports.
Although long lines were expected to form at the country’s borders due to the around 145,000 as yet unregistered vehicles, the transition has been smooth and hauliers are registering gradually at mobile registration points on the country’s borders.
Only the Czech-Slovak border crossing Lanžhot reported a two-kilometre-long line of trucks on Monday morning. The new tolling system, operated by the consortium CzechToll/SkyToll, requires hauliers to register and have their vehicles fitted with a new on-board unit.
Prague to conclude sister-city agreement with Tchaj-pej
The city of Prague will conclude a sister-city agreement with the capital of Taiwan, Tchaj-pej in the coming weeks, Prague City Hall councillors agreed on Monday. The agreement should cover cooperation in the business and cultural spheres.
Prague recently terminated its sister-city agreement with Beijing after Beijing refused to let Prague remove a clause saying it respected the policy of One China.
Tuesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 2 and –2 degrees Celsius.