Czech MEPs say they will strive to soften a proposed amendment to the EU firearms directive which aims to tighten controls on the legal acquisition and possession of firearms. One cannot fight against the threat of terrorism by banning legally held weapons, MEPs Jiří Pospíšil and Stanislav Polčák told reporters in Prague on Monday. On the other hand they criticized the recent proposal of Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec for Parliament to pass a constitutional amendment which would allow persons with legally held weapons to use them against terrorists. Mr. Pospíšil, a former Czech justice minister, said it would be ideal to find a sensible compromise, and that Czech MEPs would present a proposal at the March session of the European Parliament.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says he plans to rush through changes to the Czech Republic’s law on electronic communications. The move should increase the powers of regulator the Czech Telecommunications Office (CTO) with a view to increasing competition among mobile telephone operators and thus benefiting customers. The bill would also make it easier for customers to switch operators. A particular issue in the Czech Republic is the high cost of mobile data compared to in other states.
Besides beer and cars, one of the biggest Czech exports to Britain over recent years has been students. But Brexit has cast something of a shadow over what is a booming business for the British education sector. As a result, Czechs are making what could be a last ditch bid to sign up for British courses.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek would back Donald Tusk's re-election as European Council President. Mr. Zaorálek told reporters in Brussels on Monday that Mr. Tusk had his support but he emphasised that the decision was up to the EU countries' presidents and prime ministers. Tusk, former prime minister of Poland, made it clear at the EU summit in Malta on Friday that he would like to continue at the European Council's head. His present mandate will expire in May. "Our communication with Donald Tusk has been smooth, we comprehend his positions," Zaorálek said on behalf of the Czech Foreign Ministry. He said Prague would discuss the issue with its partners, mainly within the Visegrad Four group, which also comprises Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said that the European Union should in future work to secure the security of its citizens but not erect any barriers to the functioning of the single market. It should also attempt to bridge the gulf in the living standards of those in different countries, he added. Government leaders and heads of state at an EU summit in Malta discussed how a document reformulating and restating the EU’s future should look. Members of the Central European Visegrad group, including the Czech Republic, will work jointly on preparations. Leaders also dealt with the immigration issue and agreed that cooperation with Libya to boost its policing of its coastline and land borders is now more important than ever. While immigration flows through Turkey were down by a third in 2016, those through the so-called Central route targeting Italy still came to around 180,000 last year. Sobotka told journalists that the EU could not expect multilateral treaties from the new US president Donald Trump and should expect increased pressure from Washington to increase their defense spending.
The fight against people smugglers and steps to curb the flow of illegal migrants from North Africa to Europe should be the key priorities at the EU’s informal summit in Malta, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists on the eve of the meeting. The prime minister said the Czech Republic fully supports closer cooperation with North African states on ways to stem the flow of refugees and curb the operations of people smugglers in the Mediterranean. He said he did not expect the issue of migrant quotas to be a subject of debate but noted that the Czech Republic’s negative stance to quotas remained unchanged. EU leaders are also expected to discuss Brexit and EU-US relations under the Trump administration.
The Czech Republic failed to effectively take advantage of opportunities to pump European funds last year, according to the Minister for Regional Development Karla Šlechtová. The minister described last year’s results as poor, adding that part of the problem was with fund management bodies and also the fact that firms and individuals preferred to turn to national funds rather than EU cash because the procedures were simpler. Last year agreements covering around 10 billion crowns were signed with 14.2 percent of the maximum total for the 2014-2020 of 648 billion crowns now claimed. This year, the minister said around five times more EU cash, or around 53 billion crowns, should be claimed.
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, who attended an informal meeting of European interior and justice ministers in Malta on Thursday, repeated the Czech government’s firm opposition to EU mandatory refugee quotas. Taking the opposite stand, EU Commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said he hoped the ministers would finally agree on a fair distribution of migrants. He told the AFP news agency it was time to interpret the principle of solidarity in the same way. The Czech government remains opposed to mandatory refugee quotas on the grounds that such a system would not work.
Last year the Czech Republic received some CZK 79.6 billion more from the European Union than it paid into the coffers of the 27-member bloc, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Czech Ministry of Finance. It was the third highest net gain for the Czech Republic since it joined the EU in 2004. The country has obtained more from the bloc than it has paid in for each of the last 12 years.
A Czech minister has, to some extent, broken ranks over how the European Union should negotiate with Britain over Brexit. Interior minister Milan Chovanec has suggested that when it comes to the rights of Czechs living in Britain, Prague should go it alone and launch its own talks with London regardless of what the other 26 EU countries are doing.