Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis, whose centrist ANO movement leads opinion, has locked horns with German centre-right MEP Ingeborg Grassle, a member of the budgetary control committee.
The embattled minister, who built the Agrofert chemicals and media group into the country’s biggest private company, has been under fire for past business dealings. Last week, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he would seek the removal of Babis, who is a long-time political rival.
Babis, who has denied any wrong-doing, has also accused a member of the European Parliament for being part of the campaign against him.
“I have got a fan at the European Parliament, it is Madam Grassle,” he told a press conference. “She is using me to build her political career. She is always criticising me, giving interviews to anti-Babis news services. She is always online, eager to dump on me. She is very active in doing this, which is making her more visible in Brussels. She is part of campaign against me.
“Madam Grassle doesn’t like Czech Republic. She is content when she can vilify the Czech Republic,” added Babis.
Grassle was quick to respond. She rejected the allegations and called on Babis to “tone down his aggressive rhetoric and refrain from insulting a freely elected parliamentarian”.
“I have been serving as a member of the Budgetary Control Committee for 13 years,” she said. “When we met, I explained to him the role of the committee I am chairing, and my own role in protecting the European Union taxpayers’ money. I would be delighted if he could finally solve the issue which depends only on him and not on the Czech Republic.”