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Czech PM to emphasize unity and security at EU summit

The Czech Republic will be emphasizing unity and security at the EU’s informal summit in Rome on Saturday. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said ahead of the summit that EU cooperation in matters of security and EU border protection was a crucial issue. Europe must be capable of taking coordinated action in the fight against terrorism, illegal migration and organized crime, Sobotka told journalists. He also stressed the need to push ahead with convergence and reduce disparities among EU members and for the EU to remain open to newcomers. The Czech prime minister said he was satisfied with the Czech and Visegrad input into the draft declaration which EU members are expected to sign at the summit. He added however that the Czech Republic was extremely cautious regarding the possibility of a multi-speed EU, saying that Prague feared that the countries left in the slow-lane would be left out of important decision-making.

Czech Republic may join legal action against German’s highway toll

The Czech Republic considers the planned highway toll on Germany’s historically free autobahns discriminatory to foreign drivers and may join legal action against it, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday. The toll is due to go into effect as of 2019. German drivers will be able to deduct the toll costs from the vehicle tax they are already paying, leaving the toll burden largely on foreigners. Several EU member states are considering jointly suing Germany over the planned highway toll.

Thousands pay last respects to Cardinal Vlk

Thousands of people have been paying their last respects to Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, former Archbishop of Prague ahead of Saturday’s funeral. The cardinal’s remains were placed in an open casket in St. Vitus Cathedral on Thursday and can be viewed at the Church Of St. Benedict on Friday between 3pm and 9pm CET. People queued up for close to two hours to pay their respects, with many having travelled from neighbouring countries to do so. Saturday’s funeral at St. Vitus Cathedral will be attended by politicians, cultural figures and church dignitaries from at home and abroad. The funeral mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Dominik Duka, who succeeded Cardinal Vlk as Archbishop of Prague. Cardinal Vlk died last Saturday at the age of 84.

Catholic Church wins court battle over rare painting

The Prague Municipal Court has ruled that a rare painting dating back to 1350, Madona z Veveří, belongs to the Czech Catholic Church. The court thus rejected an appeal from the National Gallery which tried to lay claim to the painting on the grounds that the Catholic Church lost it before the onset of the communist regime, so it could not be reclaimed within the church restitution law. The Municipal Court ruled that the state had only declared ownership of the painting in 1958 and could not lay any claim to it today. After several appeals, Friday’s verdict is legally binding.

Anti-trust office zeroes in on food chains

The anti-trust office is preparing to launch administrative proceedings against a number of multi-national food chains, the ctk news agency reports. It has been repeatedly criticized for neglecting this business sphere by the Chamber of Commerce which points to food chains growing profits at the expense of both suppliers and consumers. The anti-trust office said it was conducting close to two dozen investigations into suspected cartel agreements and irregularities.

Dukovany-2 unit shutdown for safety checks

The Dukovany-2 nuclear reactor has been shut down for unscheduled safety checks. The safety checks focus on possible problems with valves in the pressurized area. Operator ČEZ said that there was no danger to the operation of the unit or the surrounding environment as the reactor was powered down on Thursday. The unit had returned to operation only on Saturday after a long six month shutdown for safety checks and partial fuel loading.

Weather forecast

Saturday should bring clear to partly cloudy skies and day temperatures between 11 and 16 degrees Celsius.