Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka takes part Thursday in the European Council meeting in Brussels. The last meeting of the year of EU government heads should focus on the thorny issues of immigration, defense, and the development of the internal market. A side meeting will also cover preparations for the 27 countries negotiating position with Britain on its quitting of the European Union. The situation in Syria and way forward for an EU-Ukraine association agreement will also be discussed. Going into the meeting, Sobotka said that the Czech Republic remains opposed to the mandatory share out of immigrants across the EU. Slovakia is seeking to table a compromise proposal bridging the gap between the stance of Central European and West European countries on the issue.
The pace of price rises for flats in Prague and other major Czech cities slowed slightly in the third quarter to 2.7 percent compared to the previous one. The average price per square metre now stands at 46,200 crowns. Prices for the most expensive category of Prague flats stand at 61,500 crowns per square metre. At the other end of the price range, those in the northern city of Ustí nad Labem are selling for an average 10,700 crowns per square metre. Flat prices in major cities have climbed by an average 21 percent since the start of 2015. In Prague, buyers now have to save more compared with their average wages for a flat than people in Berlin, Bratislava, or Vienna.
A Slovak businessman has moved for the Czech police to confiscate all the assets of one of the country’s richest businessman, Zdeňek Bakala. Head of the Arca Capital investment group, Pavol Krúpa, has filed a demand with the national police centre for combatting organised crime on the grounds that Bakala effectively tunnelled tens of billions of crowns out of the hard coal mining company OKD when he was the main shareholder. OKD is now under insolvency management. Bakala is the owner of the country’s main business newspaper, Hospodářské Noviny, as well as other titles in the Economia group, as well as a host of other ventures.
One of the Czech Republic’s biggest DIY and garden equipment firms, Mountfield, has been sold to a Hong Kong based company. The purchase of the 56-strong network of stores is being made by Eurasia Development Group Limited. The Czech founder of Mountfield, Ivan Drbohlav, explained that he has been seeking a buyer for some time. He created the company in 1991. At one time Mountfield’s launch on the Prague stock exchange was mulled.
The Czech government has accepted the recommendation of the Ministry of Finance and Czech National Bank and opted not to set a target date for joining the single currency euro in 2017. Specifically, no move will be made to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) II, the waiting room for final adoption of the euro in which the currency moves within a restricted band against the single currency. Some members of the government had been pressing for a more positive approach to joining the euro.
A former top member of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) party, Daniel Ježek, has been detained in custody by a Ustí court. At the moment he is the only one of 24 suspects in a suspected case of suspected EU funds to be detained in custody. Suspects in the case of misuse of funds include a former regional governor of the Ustí region, Jana Vanhová, and Karlovy Vary regional leader and Cheb mayor Petr Navrátil. Czech media have suggested the latest round of arrests stem from the previous conviction of Petr Kušnierz, the former head of the north-west regional programme.
The self-proclaimed micro-state Liberland has opened its permanent representation to the Czech Republic in Prague. Its president Vít Jedlička, who declared the state in a no man's land between Croatia and Serbia in April 2015, announced the news at a press conference on Wednesday. He said the new representation of Liberland is to develop relations with politicians and diplomats in the Czech Republic and provide services to Czechs who apply for Liberland citizenship. According to Jedlička, the Free Republic of Liberland has so far received 115,000 applications for citizenship.
The Biathlon World Cup gets underway in Nové Město na Moravě in the Vysočina region on Thursday. Czech athletes, including two-time Olympic winner Gabriela Koukalová, are considered among the front-runners to compete for medals. The programme will unfold on Thursday afternoon with the men’s 10 kilometre sprint. The event, which runs until December 18, has already been sold out. Organizers expect to welcome around 120, 000 visitors.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met with EU Commission's chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, in Prague on Wednesday. Speaking after the meeting, Mr Sobotka said he and Mr Barnier agreed on the priorities in Brexit negotiations with the European Union. He said Great Britain must guarantee all four freedoms, including freedom of movement, if it wants access to the single market. The ‘four freedoms’ of the European Union are the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital over borders.
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