I was born on the 18th of July 1986 in Prague. I studied Biophysics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, specializing on the use of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Later, I worked as a research assistant and software developer. Between 2017 and 2019, I was a deputy of the Czech Chamber of Deputies and became a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and vice-chairman of the Committee on European Affairs. In April 2017, I was elected the vice-chair of the Czech Pirate Party and I have been the Chairperson of the European Pirate Party since 2019. In 2019, I was also elected to the European Parliament and the Pirate Party joined the EP’s Greens / EFA group.
Personally, I am part of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), the Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT), and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). As a Member of the European Parliament, I support innovation and technological growth, AI development in Europe, and stricter budgetary control. One of the most important topics I focus on is the reorientation of European economy onto a sustainable and environmentally conscious path that will lead us out of the climate crisis. I believe that technology should help people, not spy on them. I want a diplomatically unified and strong Europe, capable of standing up to both multinational corporations and authoritarian regimes. I am fluent in English and German.
If you want to know more about how I voted in the European Parliament, you can find out more here https://www.votewatch.eu/en/term9-mikulas-peksa.html!
The first year in European Parliament
What happened in our first year?
The need for a group
To achieve anything in the European Parliament, you need to join a group. Our options were the RENEW Europe group and the Greens / EFA. The Greens / EFA group offered reasonable conditions, a good level of service, and allowed us to follow up on the work of the Pirate MEP Julie Reda and to diverge from the group’s opinion on topics that were essential to us. On the other hand, the Czech ANO movement settled in Renew Europe and because of Andrej Babiš’s conflict of interests, sharing a group with them was not acceptable to us. It will therefore come as no surprise that we decided to choose the Greens / EFA. We also have a lot in common with them when it comes to promoting sustainability and transparency and protecting the rule of law and public funds, as these are values that I am fully dedicated to.
Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission
Pirate MEPs did not support the new European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen. We do not agree with how it was formed: its head is not an elected politician, but Ursula von der Leyen, who was picked by the Council. In the past, her enthusiasm for curbing the freedom of the Internet earned her the moniker Zensursula.
We were also critical to individual Commissioner candidates: Sylvie Goulard from France failed to explain her significant additional incomes, while the Romanian and Hungarian candidates did not pass due to their conflicts of interests. I believe it is essential that the Parliament should exercise oversight over the Commission and not allow excessive missteps, in the same way that national parliaments are supposed to scrutinise their governments. I am glad that we managed to garner sufficient support for setting clear boundaries for the Commission. After all, it is not possible to simply install anyone in such key positions and have no democratic control.
Major European Issue: Mr. Babiš’s Conflict of Interests
Andrej Babiš has a clear conflict of interests. I have been saying this for several years and the move to Brussels definitely did not make me forget. This is a very significant problem, because as Prime Minister, Mr. Babiš takes part in deciding how the EU’s funds will be allocated in the Czech Republic, and what the EU’s budget will look like in general. At the same time, his companies, currently hidden by the veil of trust funds, benefit from the EU’s subsidies. Subsidies that are supposed to help modernize the Czech economy, but instead they are being channelled into improving toast bread production lines.
I am convinced this is a systemic issue that has a stranglehold on Czechia and corrodes the EU from the inside.
Our efforts culminated into an MEP mission. Alongside other MEPs, we met with Czech civil servants, civil society representatives, and politicians and talked about how the system looks in general. The mission was accompanied by the Prime Minister rather sad performance, in which he labelled me and MEP Zdechovský traitors and called the Head of Mission and Committee Chair Monika Hohlmeier “insane”. Sadly, he did not say that to us face to face, but decided to let the media relay his insults, since he cancelled the planned meeting with the mission at the last minute.
In the meantime, our committee drafted a set of recommended actions for Czechia that would ensure fairer subsidy use.
That is not all: I and my team also drafted and negotiated a Parliament Resolution on Mr. Babiš’s conflict of interests. It will come up on the agenda at the Parliament’s next session in mid-June.
Elected PPEU Chair
In the beginning of November 2019, I was elected Chairperson of the European Pirate Party. I have been working in the European Pirate Party in different roles since 2015 and I want to use my experience to strengthen the international collaboration between national Pirate Parties. I believe that every country needs a little more freedom.
Strengthening the EU’s Rule of Law
Every year, the European Commission publishes its Annual Rule of Law Report for individual Member States. Stakeholders can use a form on the Commission’s website to voice their opinions on the report. I wanted to raise awareness of this activity and increase the likelihood that Czechs will get involved, so I provided a Czech translation of the form.
I find it regrettable that I had to provide the translation on my own, and even more regrettable that the Commission failed to prolong the consultation period by a significant deal, despite the state of emergency in the EU. A missed opportunity.
Budgetary Control for the EU’s Institutions
We have managed to gain support throughout the Parliament for more savings!
That includes promoting a single seat for the European Parliament, more digitalization and teleworking, more transparency in MEP’s meetings with lobbyists, and open cost statements for all offices. We also pushed through a clear commitment to use open-source software in the EU institutions.
We do our best to lead by example in this: https://www.pirati.cz/europarlament/hospodareni/
Tax fairness and fair public spending
One of my key topics is tackling corruption and tax evasion. This inspired me to connect with other MEPs to establish a parliamentary intergroup focused on anti-corruption policy. I have been consistently talking about problems in tax legislation and other negative trends that lead to unhealthy connections between business interests and political duties.
The work in the intergroup is naturally not just focused on big things, like changing the tax regulation; it is also about a number of small improvements. Together with my colleague Daniel Freund, I have been working towards establishing a “cooling-off period” that would force high-level officials to wait before starting work in a lobbyist organization. We also successfully pushed through a number of small amendments that help make the Parliament more transparent, and as the group’s economic team, we proposed five clear requirements for all state subsidies in the EU. We are now united in calling for these in the European Parliament and they also give Green Parties around Europe fundamental guidelines. I am glad we have managed to negotiate this document, which stipulates, for example, that companies channelling their taxes to tax havens should not receive state subsidies.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I have mainly been trying to explain what options the EU institutions have and what steps they have been taking. I believe the EU has done everything that was in its power – but its power was too limited. Every Prime Minister is happy to organize a press conference and boast how they were so strict to close the borders and then showed mercy by opening them again but coordinating their actions with others and choosing data-driven measures on a regional level seems to be less attractive. I believe it is high time for a lot of changes in how the EU functions.
However, the Union will play a huge part in helping us revive the economy together. We have encountered an unprecedented crisis and there is no clear end in sight. This crisis could be an opportunity that lets us transition to modern technologies and sustainable solutions, rather than just concrete and more concrete, but the government has been going in the opposite direction.
In my work on the rule of law in Europe, I called for restrictions to emergency legislation. Emergency laws should have a clear time limit, since otherwise they are a tool that grants practically unlimited powers to authoritarians. This is especially the case in Hungary and Poland and that is also the topic of our resolution, which will be voted on in the following months.
Unacceptable human rights violations
Pirates are extremely invested in promoting and upholding human rights all over the world. Personally, I have been trying to speak out about multiple injustices that are often overlooked by the media. I am especially concerned about how new technologies are exploited for mass surveillance, which can often lead to imprisonment or death in authoritarian states. Yes, here I mean China and Tibet.
I also talked about modern technology abuses at the conference in Geneva. I became the chair of the informal Friends of Tibet group in the European Parliament, and I collaborate with organizations of Tibetans in exile. In the following years, I would like to use these contacts to help minorities in China as much as I can. I also believe it is extremely important to share information about the ways China has been using tools that are supposed to liberate us to further oppression and slavery.
AI regulation will become an absolutely key issue in the future, as AI will one day affect all aspects of civilized life. The Pirates have been working in the EP to make sure that the future legal framework for AI use will help remove inequality, not further it.
In the ITRE committee, I have been getting ready for several reports and planned publications. I have also organized a conference to talk about the role the EU can play in AI development and risk management. The EU is the only global superpower that has been at least trying to protect its citizens’ privacy and freedom against modern threats, and I want to do all I can to improve this protection even further.
Common EU army
The subject of a common EU army has been coming up more and more in relation to the EU’s defence policy. I support the creation of a European army, as it would both save significant amounts of money and increase Member States’ defence capacities.
We do not have specific publications or guidelines on this topic in the European Parliament, but I think it is important to mention this alternative. Maybe one day!
Resisting Internet censorship
Together with Ondřej Profant and Marcel Kolaja, I focused on the problematic provisions of the Copyright Directive, as part of the Save the Internet campaign. We tried to make the Czech Republic join the action before the EU’s Court of Justice regarding the unconstitutionality of automated content filters. I and Patrick Breyer also spoke out about the dangers of automated filters in the context of the Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content.
Marcel and Patrick have taken point on these dossiers and they have been both doing very good legislative work.
Disinformation is a major problem in our interconnected society that everyone is trying to solve. Often, their answer is more control and more regulation. I, however, do not think it is good to give member states more opportunities for censorship. The solution lies in more education and awareness-raising when it comes to searching for information and fact-checking. I also talked about this at a series of workshops addressing the spread of disinformation in Central Europe.
Everyday work in the Parliament
There is one more thing I would like to mention. I naturally have my goals and priorities, but we also have to deal with countless other decisions. Before every single vote, the Pirates have a meeting and deliberate on how we will approach the given subject. We do not want to just parrot the Greens; we want to make sure that every single one of the hundreds of votes we cast at one plenary session is well justified. While MEPs in other groups can safely rely on their voting lists, I sometimes pull 24-hour shifts with my team to go through amendments (amendments can be proposed even a short time before the session and it is not possible to prepare for them).
That too is part of my parliamentary work. So how did I vote? You can see that if you click at the following link.
I will be happy to talk to you about my reasons for each vote.