Daily news summary Daily news summary

17-07-2019

Czech PM welcomes von der Leyen’s election, Czech MEPs divided

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has welcomed the election of Ursula von der Leyen as the new president of the European Commission.

In a congratulatory message on Twitter, Mr. Babiš said he was glad that a woman, and a very competent one, would take up the European Commission leadership. He said he looked forward to meeting with her in person to discuss the future of the EU.

Czech MEPs were divided in the vote with MEP’s elected for the prime minister’s ANO party, who are part of the liberal group Renew Europe, the Christian Democrats, Mayors and Independents and TOP 09, associated in the European People’s Party, supporting her, while Czech MEPs elected for other factions voting against.

State Environmental Fund suspends funding to one of Agrofert’s subsidiaries

One of the companies belonging to the Agrofert group, a holding founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš before he entered politics, will no longer be receiving funding from the country’s State Environmental Fund, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Wednesday, citing the fund’s Director of the National Programmes’ Management Section Leo Steiner.

The decision to suspend the funding was made following the recent allegations of the prime minister being in a conflict of interests. Agrofert says that it made all of the necessary procedures that Czech law requests in the application process and expects to eventually receive the funds.

Czech universities prepare new courses in response to drought

The frequently occurring droughts in the Czech Republic are not only leading to government counter-measures, but also an increased need for experts on climate change related subjects. In response, a number of Czech universities are setting up courses focusing on the protection of natural resources, Hospodářské Noviny reports.

The University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague has set up a new study programme exploring water and the environment, while the high levels of bark beetle infestation have led Brno’s Mendel University to open up a new course on the technologies and management involved in wood processing.

Petříček: Czech Republic is ready to help in a Europe-wide solution but refuses EU quota system

The Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček reacted to the statement by German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer that there is "close to zero" support for a solution to the migrant crisis in Eastern Europe by telling the Czech News Agency that the Czech Republic is ready to help in a Europe-wide solution, but refuses the quota system.

Mr. Seehofer made the comment at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, stating that he had been in Eastern Europe many times, most recently in Prague. He went on to say that the current system of dividing migrants cannot be a long-term solution.

The German interior minister also talked about the statistics from the annual report of the German Federal Police. According to the report, the number of illegal migrants that crossed the border from Czech Republic into Germany last year rose by 6.5 percent as opposed to 2017, reaching 4,296 cases. The rising number contrasts with the fact that in the majority of Germany’s other borders the amount of illegal migrant crossings registered a decrease.

Mr. Seehofer said he believes that the increase is due to a shift in migration routes and that Germany intends to make its border checks more thorough until sufficient checking is implemented on the boarders of the Schengen Area. However, he dismissed the establishment of checkpoints. His Czech counterpart Jan Hamáček wrote to the Czech News Agency, saying that the Czech police have already been notified of the intention.

Social Democrat leader critical of PM over his handling of gov crisis

Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček has criticized Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for the way he is handling the government crisis revolving around the culture minister.

In an interview for Czech Radio Mr. Hamáček said he would have expected more emphatic action from the prime minister in defending not only the coalition agreement but the constitutional order. “The prime minister is trying to resolve the controversy at no cost to himself, which is simply not possible,” Hamáček said, referring to Babiš’ unwillingness to enter into an open conflict with the president and use legal means to force him to do his constitutional duty.

The president’s reluctance to effect a change-of-guard at the Culture Ministry and appoint the nominee of their choice has angered the Social Democrats to the point where they have threatened to walk out of the government if their conditions are not met.

Labour minister seeks amendment that would boost part-time jobs

Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová is planning to propose an amendment to the Czech labour law, which will make it easier for employers to create part-time jobs. The idea, she told Czech Radio, is to create so-called “shared working spots”, which would give two to three people the chance to work in the same job position. Similar types of definitions currently exist in neighbouring Slovakia and Germany. The labour minister hopes that, if passed, the new legislation will make it easier for mothers of small children and over-60s to remain active on the labour market.

Current data from the Czech Statistics office shows that the Czech Republic is far below the EU average when it comes to part-time employment. Whereas the European median lies at around 20 percent, in the Czech Republic the number is just over 7 percent.

Veterinarians discover quarter ton of rotten meat en-route to supply children’s camp

Veterinarians from the State Veterinary Administration discovered 250 kilograms of rotten meat while checking a truck on its way to supply a children’s summer camp. The discovery was made after the veterinary administration ordered local hygienists to inspect the sanitation standards at a camp near the South Bohemian city of Jindřichův Hradec. The truck, which lacked a cooling system, was transporting chicken, pork and other types of meat in a half frozen state, while also lacking the necessary documentation for the products. State Veterinary Administration spokesman Petr Vorlíček told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday that the supplier is facing a fine of up to CZK 1,000,000.

Jakub Vrána signs new two-year deal with Washington Capitals

The Czech ice-hockey forward Jakub Vrána has signed a deal with his current NHL team the Washington Capitals. The contract is worth USD 6.7 million dollars and will last for two seasons. The team’s general manager, Brian Mac Lellan, told journalists that the 23-year-old Czech is a highly skilled player and a big part of the team’s future.

Vrána scored 47 points last season, including 24 goals, and has established himself as a top-six forward. He ended the season as a restricted free agent, but the Capitals, last year’s Stanley Cup champions, used their opportunity to re-sign him. The new contract counts on a similar restriction clause after it runs out in 2021.

Weather

Temperatures are set to start increasing from Thursday, reaching 29 degrees Celsius over the weekend. Intermittent showers and occasional storms are also expected to go on until the end of the week. On Thursday, rain-showers are likely, particularly in the South Bohemian region.

17-07-2019