It is certainly not the first time that EU money has been spent incorrectly, says Van Slooten. “Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán, for example, built a train in his native region that is not used, in Bulgaria cardboard castles were built with subsidies.”
The problem is that it is difficult for the EU to act against this: there is an anti-fraud organization, OLAF, which is seen as a paper tiger. “Wrongly spent money can be reclaimed, but then a judge in the Member State has to make that judgment. That often doesn’t happen, and I don’t see that happening at Babis now,” says Van Slooten. Since last year, the EU has its own Public Prosecutor’s Office, headed by Romanian prosecutor Kövesi. “Maybe she’s going to investigate the Babis case.”
Babis can ignore the call from Brussels, but that does not mean that he has nothing to fear, says Van Slooten. “There have been major demonstrations to demand his resignation and hundreds of thousands of Czechs have taken part in it. In the Czech Republic, an app has been developed that allows consumers to see whether they are buying a product from a Prime Minister’s company. That app has already been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.”
Babis is therefore under particular pressure in his own country.