Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Wednesday slammed the EU’s massive 750-billion-euro post-virus recovery fund, arguing that it favoured members prone to racking up excessive debt.
“The recovery fund criteria are tailor-made for countries which have not been as responsible in terms of debt, budget discipline or unemployment,” Babis told reporters after talks with his Slovak counterpart Igor Matovic in Prague.
The EU introduced its “Next Generation” recovery fund last week, but the bloc’s biggest-ever stimulus package immediately triggered criticism from member states inclined to tight spending.
In an article in Wednesday’s edition of the broadsheet daily DNES Babis criticised the volume of the fund, the criteria for payments and the fact that it will provide members with loans. DNES is owned by his sprawling Agrofert food, chemicals and media holding.
The business mogul-turned-politician also said the EU’s budget for 2021-2027 should not change its parameters because of the fund.
Central Europe’s post-communist countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are due to discuss the EU plan on June 11, ahead of a European Council summit on June 19.
Matovic said he expected the meeting, to be held in the southeastern Czech town of Lednice, to offer a joint stance of the so-called Visegrad-four countries.
“We can see that the current state of the fund is not really in favour of the Czech Republic or Hungary, but that’s what the June 11 meeting will be about,” he said.
Babis and Matovic also agreed, as of Thursday, to fully open the border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which until 1993 formed a single country.