Procedure : 2018/2975(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0584/2018

Texts tabled :

B8-0584/2018

Debates :

PV 12/12/2018 - 23
CRE 12/12/2018 - 23

Votes :

PV 13/12/2018 - 9.13
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 166kWORD 46k
11.12.2018
PE631.607v01-00
 
B8-0584/2018

to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on conflicts of interest and the protection of the EU budget in the Czech Republic (2018/2975(RSP))


Dennis de Jong on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

European Parliament resolution on conflicts of interest and the protection of the EU budget in the Czech Republic (2018/2975(RSP))  
B8‑0584/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046(1) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union (hereinafter ‘the Financial Regulation’), and in particular Article 61 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(2),

–  having regard to the complaint lodged by Transparency International Czech Republic in September 2018 regarding a possible violation of the new Financial Regulation by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is accused of having a conflict of interest,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Commission’s Legal Service on Mr Babiš’s conflict of interest in relation to the conglomerate Agrofert, dated 19 November 2018,

–  having regard to Czech Act No 159/2006 of 16 March 2006 on conflicts of interest, Article 4(c) of which entered into force in September 2017,

–  having regard to the decision of the CONT Coordinators to raise the issue of Mr Babiš’s possible conflict of interest in the framework of the discharge,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the 2018 Financial Regulation and its new Article 61 entered into force on 2 August 2018;

B.  whereas Article 61 includes in the definition of conflict of interest ‘any other direct and indirect personal interest’ and covers all financial actors and other persons, including national authorities, at any level involved in budget implementation under direct, indirect and shared management;

C.  whereas the Commission has the duty to monitor the conformity of national systems with EU requirements and to apply appropriate measures to protect the Union budget, including suspension of payments and financial corrections if breaches of applicable law are identified;

D.  whereas Article 63 of the Financial Regulation requires the Member States to put in place management and control systems that, as required by Article 36(3), should be capable of avoiding conflicts of interests;

E.  whereas in 2017 Mr Babiš transferred his shares in the Agrofert company and in the Agrofert group to two newly established private trust funds, while appearing to be the sole settlor and sole beneficiary of both trusts;

F.  whereas the Agrofert group has shares in some 200 to 300 other companies that received in 2017 up to EUR 82 million in funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds);

G.  whereas it is the responsibility of national authorities in the first instance to take the necessary action, thus binding the national authorities to take appropriate measures to address the situation;

H.  whereas the opinion of the Commission’s Legal Service qualifies Mr Babiš’s situation as a conflict of interest, since public officials and politicians should not benefit from EU funds they ultimately control;

I.  whereas the legal opinion centres on possible violations of the 2018 Financial Regulation in relation to ESI Funds in 2018; whereas it leaves open the possibility that the conflict of interest dates back to 2013 and covers also other EU funds;

J.  whereas Article 4(c) of Czech Act No 159/2006 on conflicts of interest prohibits awarding a grant ‘to a company in which a public officer or an entity that s/he controls owns at least a 25 % share’;

K.  whereas, in accordance with Article 2(1)(c) of the abovementioned act, the notion of public officer includes members of government;

1.  Requests that the Czech Government complete the necessary investigations to assess the implementation of Czech Act No 159/2006 on conflicts of interest in relation to the specific case of the Czech Prime Minister and Agrofert;

2.  Requests that the Czech Government, upon completion of the investigation, take all necessary measures to address the situation;

3.  Requests that the Commission submit to Parliament, without any delay, its response to the complaint from Transparency International(3);

4.  Requests, in particular, that the Commission release the opinion of its Legal Service on this case dated 19 November 2018 concerning the impact of Article 61 of the new Financial Regulation (conflicts of interest) on payments from the ESI Funds;

5.  Requests that the Commission submit to Parliament the letter that, according to Commissioner Oettinger, when addressing Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on 3 December 2018, was sent to the Czech Government;

6.  Requests that the Commission invite the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to look into this case and start its own investigations on the matter;

7.  Requests that the Commission submit to Parliament a detailed report on the state of play of this case before the end of January 2019;

8.  Reiterates its regret that the country-by-country report was discontinued in a second EU Anti-Corruption report by the Commission (ARES (2017)455202); calls on the Commission once again to resume reporting, separately from the Economic Semester, on the status of corruption in Member States, including evaluating the effectiveness of EU-supported anti-corruption efforts; reiterates its call on the Commission not to evaluate anti-corruption efforts only in terms of economic loss;

9.  Requests that the Commission evaluate the control systems put in place in the Czech Republic in order to assess whether they comply with Articles 36 and 63 of the Financial Regulation;

10.  Recalls the need to follow up on this issue, in particular in its resolution of discharge to the Commission;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the President of the Czech Republic.

 

(1)

OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.

(2)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.

(3)

 https://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/transparency_international_czech_republic_complaint_concerning_andrej_babis

Last updated: 11 December 2018Legal notice