Czech PM flatly rejects EU post-Brexit budget proposal

New Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš during a joint news conference with Czech President Milos Zeman (not pictured) at the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, 6 June 2018. [Martin Divisek/EPA/EFE]

Czech billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babiš yesterday (18 June) rejected the European Commission’s multi-year draft budget as “completely unacceptable”, lashing out at spending priorities imposed by Brussels.

While the commission has earmarked funds for workforce training and requalification, Babiš believes more should be spent on investment.

“Brussels is again trying to impose its ideas when we need to direct money towards investments,” said the chemicals, food and media mogul, listed by Forbes as the second wealthiest Czech citizen.

European funds “should be used for investment, so that it can bring tangible results so that we can see where it goes… and not get lost in professional training courses,” Babiš said, quoted by the Czech CTK news agency.

“The draft budget is completely unacceptable.”

The EU has proposed spending more on Greece, Italy and other member countries hit by the economic and migrant crises and less on increasingly wealthy eastern states in its post-Brexit spending plans for 2021-2027.

European sources have said that Poland and Hungary would receive more than 20% less in cohesion funds in the next budget, compared to the current 2014-2020 spending plan.

The Polish government has already denounced as “unacceptable” the proposed reduction, a stance echoed by other eastern EU members including Latvia.

EU officials deny the cuts are aimed at punishing eastern EU countries like Hungary, Poland and Slovakia for refusing to admit migrants.

Commission proposes more spending on Italy and south, less on Visegrad Four

The European Union’s executive proposed on Tuesday (29 May) to spend more of the bloc’s money on Italy and other southern states hit by the economic and migration crises, while giving less to the Visegrad Four countries refusing to accept refugees.

The commission’s May proposal foresees a seven-percent cut to cohesion funds in a €1.279 trillion budget to help make up for the loss of Britain’s contribution after Brexit in 2019.

Cohesion or development policy aims to bring economic conditions in the 28-nation bloc’s traditionally poorer eastern countries up to the higher western levels.

Funds for agriculture, which with development funds account for the biggest share of the budget, are facing a five percent cut.

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