The outgoing government of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will decide Monday (18 October) on a strategic €20 million investment in the Three Seas Initiative (3SI).
While the 3SI – a forum of twelve EU member states, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria – is widely accepted among Czech politicians, the investment raises eyebrows.
Czechia has been so far reluctant to invest in this initiative and proposed only one “priority project” that could be funded from the initiative – a controversial Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor.
The planned 450 kilometres-long waterway connecting three European rivers is welcomed by neighbouring Poland. Still, it faces criticism from Czech opposition and experts for unclear economic feasibility and potentially devastating impact on the local environment.
However, the project is favoured by Czech President Miloš Zeman and lobbyists surrounding him. The last-minute decision of the outgoing government could be seen as a move to please the president’s office at the end of Babiš’s mandate.
“Based on the president’s decision, the Czech Republic proposed together with its Polish partner the water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe for so-called priority projects,” according to an official document seen by EURACTIV.cz.
President Zeman is currently being treated in intensive care with an unnamed chronic disease, and his ability to execute power is in question. As EURACTIV.cz understands, as the president’s health is weak, people from the president’s office have been trying to benefit from the situation and push their interests forward. “Unfortunately, speaking of the president’s office, our president is not in good hands,” said Czech Senate Speaker Miloš Vystrčil (ECR).
The president was hospitalised following the Czech parliamentary elections, leaving the country in uncertainty. He is expected to nominate the future prime minister to form the new government.
(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)