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.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has said the planned teachers’ strike
over salaries on Wednesday is unwarranted and the government will not
respond to it.
Teacher unions last week announced plans for the all-day strike after their demands for a 10 percent salary increase was not met. Babiš and Minister of Education Robert Plaga (ANO) had offered an 8 percent raise.
Over 6,000 schools, nearly 60 percent, have so far confirmed that they will take part in the strike on Wednesday, the unions said, while others will display a logo signifying their support.
The average monthly gross salary of a teacher was around 36,200 crowns in the first quarter of 2019 while the national average stood at 32,466 crowns. The unions have been pushing to raise teachers' salaries to 130 percent of the average.
As the Czech nation celebrates 30 years of freedom and democracy the words of a leading Communist Party official have caused a public outcry. In an interview for Czech Radio, the party’s deputy chair, Stanislav Grospič argued that the 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia was not an invasion and that the people killed had died mostly in road accidents. While his words evoked widespread condemnation, the Communist Party has not distanced itself from the statement.
The richest Czech, Petr Kellner, is taking over the country’s most popular TV station, Nova. The purchase of Nova operator CME by Kellner’s PPF Group will also give it control of a number of other channels in the region. However, critics say the move is politically motivated and have warned of a new danger to press freedom. Among those voices is Josef Šlerka, director of the Foundation for Independent Journalism.
Senator Lukáš Wagenknecht from the Pirate Party has filed a complaint
with the European Court of Justice regarding the fact that the European
Council has not set down regulations which would prevent the presidents and
prime ministers of member states holding office if they have a conflict of
Senator Wagenknecht claims that the Czech prime minister’s suspected conflict of interest could cast doubt on the European Union budget.
The European Commission is expected to finalize a definitive audit into the Czech prime minister’s suspected conflict of interest in the coming days.
The Czech Minister for Regional Development Klára Dostálová told Czech Radio that if the audit confirmed its preliminary findings regarding an existing conflict of interest on the part of the Czech prime minister, the country would take the case to the European Court of Justice.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš hopes that Toyota will expand its investment in the Czech Republic and start manufacturing hydrogen powered cars in its factory in Kolín, Hospodářské Noviny reported on Thursday. The car manufacturer is a world leader in alternative fuel automobile technology and is considering increasing its production in mainland Europe in case of Brexit complications.
The Senate commission set up to assess the European Commission audits
concerning Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's suspected conflict of
interest says its initial findings suggest that this may be the case and
has invited the prime minister for questioning.
The commission, headed by Zdeněk Nytra from the Civic Democrats' senators' group, does not have the status of an investigative body, but was set up to monitor developments in the case and guarantee objectivity.
The two EC audits, which are both preliminary, claim that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest due to continued influence on the agro-chemical business conglomerate Agrofert which he established and later put in trust funds in order to comply with a strict new conflict of interests law.
Prime Minister Babiš has denied any wrongdoing, saying he had fully adhered to Czech law.
The Czech Republic will not have sufficient sources of electricity unless
the issue of constructing new power plants, including nuclear blocks, is
resolved soon, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček told
journalists at a press conference on Monday. Mr. Havlíček based his
conclusions on a newly released study, made by the country’s transmission
system operator ČEPS, according to which the country would become
increasingly dependent on electricity imports from abroad by 2030, raising
the commodity’s price, if no further construction takes place.
His statements echoed those made by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) last week, when the head of government stressed that it was vital for the Czech Republic to build new nuclear units even if they were to be in breach of European law.
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.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is in Japan to attend the enthronement
ceremony of Emperor Naruhito together with some 50 foreign dignitaries the
In the course of his four day stay in Tokyo, Mr. Babiš is scheduled to hold talks with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and other foreign leaders.
Ahead of his departure the Czech prime minister described Czech-Japanese relations as “excellent” saying Japan was one of the leading investors in the Czech Republic.