Czech Republic Doesn’t Have to Return Any EU Subsidies, EC Confirms

Czech State of Emergency

Based on an audit of companies from the Agrofert holding, the Czech Republic does not have to return any money to the European Union.

A spokesman for the European Commission told reporters on Monday that the Czech authorities had not asked for reimbursement of any subsidies that had been subjected to the audit.

On Friday, the Commission published a final audit report, which found that Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has a conflict of interest and that the Agrofert holding is not entitled to any subsidies from Feb. 9, 2017, when the amendment to the Czech Conflict of Interest Act came into force.

According to the audit, the Czech Republic would have to return all EU subsidies, which Agrofert has been striving for since then.

“The Czech authorities have not declared any expenditure for any of the operations covered by the report. That is why no financial correction is necessary,“ said Commission spokesman Balázs Ujvari yesterday. According to him, the Commission will continue to address only some of the audit recommendations with the Czech Republic, which have not yet been taken into account by the Czech authorities.

Babiš rejected the conclusions of the audit claiming they were biased and manipulated, and the Czech Ministry of Regional Development also expressed its disagreement. Earlier, the prime minister himself assured that there was no danger that the Czech Republic should return the money to Brussels.

“We insist that in the area of subsidies we proceed exactly according to the law, relevant rules, and concluded contracts. All subsidy projects were approved by the Czech authorities and also inspected without finding any major defects. No subsidies can be described as unjustified,“ Agrofert commented on the audit in its statement.

The strongest MEP club of the European People’s Party called on the Commission not to reimburse the Czech Republic for money from the new EU multi-annual budget based on the audit.

The Czech authorities do not agree with the conclusion of the EU audit on Babiš’ conflict of interest, and only an independent court is capable of resolving the conflict over two separate legal opinions, said Minister for Regional Development Klára Dostálová at Monday’s press conference

By the end of March, the European Commission had reimbursed the Czech Republic 59 percent of subsidies earmarked for the 2014 to 2020 programming period. This amounts to CZK 367.7 billion out of a total of CZK 622.8 billion allocated.

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