On November 4, 2004 the Czech Senate approved legislation to end compulsory military service in the Czech Republic. It led to the full professionalization of the armed forces, but also marked the end of a tradition that stretched as far back as the times of Austria-Hungary. Although it has been 15 years since the country’s young men were freed from service, the debate about whether it should be reinstated seems very much alive.
Government delegations from 17 EU member states, known as the “Friends of Cohesion”, are meeting in Prague on Tuesday to discuss a united position on the EU’s budget for 2021–2027. They have issued a joint declaration which states that the future EU budget should include the same level of cohesion funding, but states should be given more flexibility in how they use it.
Freezing temperatures were recorded in many parts of the Czech Republic on
Thursday morning. The lowest temperature, minus 13 degrees Celsius, was
registered at the measuring station in Kořenov in the Jizera Mountains in
the north of the country.
The average morning temperature for the whole of the Czechia was minus 3.8 degrees Celsius. According to meteorologists, the spell of cold weather is expected to last until Saturday.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is under fire from the opposition for the way
his cabinet is handling preparations for the country’s next EU presidency
The opposition Civic Democrats claim the prime minister is underestimating the opportunities the EU presidency affords and has failed to consult his cabinet’s plans and priorities with the opposition.
They are also critical of the fact that the government slashed the budget for the country’s EU presidency from the proposed 2.6 billion to 1.2 billion crowns. The country’s last EU presidency, ten years ago, cost 3.7 billion.
In an interview for Czech Television, Prime Minister Babiš countered that the institutions involved in preparations have hidden reserves and said he would make known his plans in due time. The prime minister said the presidency’s priorities would most likely be energy and the single market.
The Czech Republic is now ahead of Spain in terms of GDP per capita adjusted to purchasing power parity (PPP). At least according to the latest OECD data, which show the country ranked 27th among the organisation’s 36 member states, with Spain one place behind, news site Aktuálně reports. However, the country still ranks bellow the EU average.
The new pipe organ for St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague resounded for the first time on Monday in a workshop near Barcelona, in Spain, where the instrument is being built. The pipe organ was commissioned by the Catholic Church and part of its cost, estimated at 80 million crowns, was raised in a public collection.
The EU has so far promised to provide CZK 100 billion in funding through
its Integrated Regional Operational Program between the years 2021 to 2027,
a decrease of around one-fifth compared to the previous term, the minister
of regional development, Klára Dostálová of ANO, told journalists on
Monday. Meanwhile, the rate of national co-financing will increase from the
current 15 percent to 30 percent. However, Ms. Dostálová said that
negotiations are still ongoing.
In terms of overall funding the Czech Republic is expected to receive CZK 520 billion crowns, which is a 100 CZK billion increase to the current funding budget. The European Commission is asking for three-quarters of the funding to be put into the union wide Intelligent Europe and Green Europe programmes, the minister said.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said on Thursday that the Czech
government agrees with the European Union’s condemnation of Turkey’s
ongoing military offensive in northern Syria to create a refugee zone.
Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies attacked Kurdish militia on Wednesday, pounding them with air strikes and artillery before starting a ground operation. The assault began days after US President Donald Trump withdrew American troops from the area.
Following a meeting in early September with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the United Nations, Mr Babiš had said that the Visegrad Group (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) supported Ankara’s intention to create a refugee zone in northern Syria.
Earlier this week, however, the Czech prime minister said that he was surprised by the situation and warned that military intervention could lead to another wave of refugees heading for Europe.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) had earlier warned in an official statement that the Turkish offensive would “only worsen the situation of civilians and refugees in the region”.
The designated Czech vice-president of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, has been approved for the European values and transparency portfolio in the new European Commission. In a three-hour hearing on Monday, Ms. Jourová was grilled by members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committees on how she would secure rule of law and media freedom across the EU.