Prague, Oct 14 (CTK) – The costs of the EU presidency in the second half of 2022 are to reach 1.24 billion crowns and Czech authorities are to hire 200 employees for the event, according to the draft report on its preparations, the government will examine later today.
The report will be submitted by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and Finance Minister Alena Schillerova (for ANO).
Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek (CSSD) has criticised the plan, arguing that the costs and personnel needs were underestimated.
His view is shared by Interior Minister Hamacek (CSSD). From the viewpoint of the Interior Ministry, the budget is insufficient, he said.
“One can see there large reserves in the personnel sphere, in the sphere of security. I have warned Babiš. As it is, the Interior Ministry disagrees with this,” Hamacek said.
Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) said he would support Petricek’s demands that enough people should be available for the preparations.
Between 2007 and 2009, 3.75 billion crowns were set aside for the preparation and the presidency itself.
Babiš said at the beginning of the year, the original draft budget projected the costs of 2.6 billion crowns, while he himself had only demanded one-half of the sum.
The largest sum, 584 million, will go to organising the events during the half-year presidency. The report says that out of the 200 newly hired people, 58 will work at the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to Brussels and the rest in the Czech Republic.
The costs of the new staff is to reach 215 million crowns and those of the employees of the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to Brussels 250 million.
The Foreign Ministry is to hire most new employees. The plan expects 58 new positions in Brussels and the rest at various ministries in the Czech Republic.
According to the report, the Czech Republic is to stage one summit on the level of heads of state and prime ministers, 14 ministerial talks, a conference of the Czech government with the European Commission and European Parliament representatives and 250 informal work meetings.
Petricek said last week, that compared with the countries of a similar size, which recently held the EU presidency, the planned Czech costs were 20 million euros (515 million crowns) lower.
He also criticised the planned personnel requirements, arguing that Austria, Slovakia and Estonia had over 200 employees in Brussels, while the Czech Republic was to only have 156 of them.
Babiš has dismissed the criticism, saying that Petricek has reserves in his budget and was not used to cut the costs.
Babiš said the Czech EU presidency from July to December 2022 should be climate-friendly and cost-effective and plans to limit flights to Brussels.