Education minister shoulders criticism over EU funds, remains in post for time being
In recent days the Education Minister Dana Kuchtova has come under fire for failing to secure the drawing of around 60 billion crowns in EU funds for research and educational programmes. On Sunday Martin Bursik - the head of the Green party of which Ms Kuchtova is a member - conceded she might have to resign. For now, the minister has stuck to her guns, hoping to turn the situation around in time. So far, she has succeeded.
"Over Saturday and Sunday it was possible to resolve many of the problems and outstanding issues and now we'll be able to follow up with the audit. Hopefully the whole programme will not have to be postponed."
The prime minister also backed Education Minister Kuchtova by indicating that problems with drawing EU funds were not exclusive to the education ministry and he also argued that a certain lack of preparedness had been "inherited" from the previous administration. At the same time the education minister made clear she was in no way shirking the blame:
But Ms Kuchtova also defended her position by saying that she had been in the post for only one month before what she called "no-longer valid material, prepared by the previous government", was sent to Brussels. And, she criticised the first former deputy minister - who resigned in June - for not informing her sufficiently of the situation.
Whether the Czech Republic will be in the first wave of approved projects by the EU now remains to be seen: the European Commission will decide on the proposal in mid-October. If it fails there is no doubt there will be serious repercussions for both the Czech education sector and the education minister's political future.