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Czech PM rejects EU post-Brexit budget proposal

© AFP/File | ANO ('YES') party leader Andrej Babis joined other Eastern European states in denouncing the EU draft budget as "unacceptable"


Czech billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Monday rejected the European Commission's multi-year draft budget as "completely unacceptable", lashing out at spending priorities imposed by Brussels.

While the commission has earmarked funds for workforce training and requalification, Babis believes more should be spent on investment.

"Brussels is again trying to impose its ideas when we need to direct money towards investments," said the chemicals, food and media mogul, listed by Forbes as the second wealthiest Czech citizen.

European funds "should be used for investment, so that it can bring tangible results so that we can see where it goes... and not get lost in professional training courses," Babis said, quoted by the Czech CTK news agency.

"The draft budget is completely unacceptable."

The EU has proposed spending more on Greece, Italy and other member countries hit by the economic and migrant crises and less on increasingly wealthy eastern states in its post-Brexit spending plans for 2021-2027.

European sources have said that Poland and Hungary would receive more than 20 percent less in cohesion funds in the next budget, compared to the current 2014-2020 spending plan.

The Polish government has already denounced as "unacceptable" the proposed reduction, a stance echoed by other eastern EU members including Latvia.

EU officials deny the cuts are aimed at punishing eastern EU countries like Hungary, Poland and Slovakia for refusing to admit migrants.

The commission's May proposal foresees a seven-percent cut to cohesion funds in a 1.279 trillion euro budget to help make up for the loss of Britain's contribution after Brexit in 2019.

Cohesion or development policy aims to bring economic conditions in the 28-nation bloc's traditionally poorer eastern countries up to the higher western levels.

Funds for agriculture, which with development funds account for the biggest share of the budget, are facing a five percent cut.

© 2018 AFP