EU presidency budget ‘not final’

Babiš blamed the EU institutions for bad estimates of carbon prices. [EPA-EFE/ARIS OIKONOMOU]

The sum of 1.24 billion crowns (around €50 million) for the Czech EU presidency in the second half of 2022 is not final, wrote PM Andrej Babis on Wednesday in reaction to the criticism expressed in an open letter sent to him last week from economists, investors and diplomats expressing their concern over the budget being too low.

The total budget will be increased by the demands of individual ministries during the negotiations on the budget bill for next year, Babis said in his statement, adding that the signatories of the letter had either been misled by the media or they are pursuing political interests.

Babis insisted the government did not underestimate the presidency. He dismissed the notion that the presidency suffered from a shortage of personnel. However, based on reports from recent months, it seems that it will highly rely on interns and “borrowed” experts from EU institutions.

The budget should be roughly one-third of that in 2009 when Czechia first took charge of the EU. The Social Democrats, junior partners in the coalition government along with ANO, and the opposition have labelled the planned budget as too low.

Czech News Agency also reported that according to Brussels diplomats, this is the lowest sum with which any member state wants to adopt its key role, limiting the Czech Republic’s chances to insist on its priorities.

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