The European Commission has requested the removal of a project from the Czech Republic’s EU-subsidised Regional Operational Programme for cohesion in Central Bohemia. But the finance ministry has yet to approve the request.
The project in question is the Stork Nest (Capi hnizdo) farm, owned by the country’s new prime minister, Andrej Babis.
As reported by the Prague Daily Monitor, the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) is also investigating Capi hnizdo. Eleven people, including Babis and his ANO party’s deputy head, Jaroslav Faltynek, face charges in the case.
The chamber of deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, has yet to decide whether to lift their immunity. The matter is pending.
Meanwhile, the Commission confirmed it received Olaf’s recommendation concerning the Capi hnizdo project. The Commission was also informed about the Czech authorities’ decision to remove the expenditure on this project from the programmes financed from the EU funds, the European Commission’s spokeswoman said without explaining further.
In an interview with the local Novinky.cz, Babis said he does not understand why this happened.
“I don’t understand how they [the authorities] could have removed the subsidy if it was granted [to Capi hnizdo] within the European funds’ support and the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) for Central Bohemia,” Babis told the server.
The finance ministry, however, has confirmed it has yet to decide whether to remove it. The ministry’s spokesman Michal Zurovec said: “After consulting the Regional Council as the body supervising the ROP SC, the ministry will release information on whether the [Capi hnizdo] project was removed”.
“The EC wants the Capi hnizdo project to be deleted from the programme for the EU not to have to deal with it any more and for the EC to be able to close the ROP SC programme,” said Zurovec.