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Czech nominee for EU commissioner approved by all four EP committees

The Czech Republic’s candidate for European commissioner for justice, consumer protection and gender issues Věra Jourová has been approved by all four committees of the European Parliament. Ms. Jourová last week failed to convince two of the four EU committees, on civil liberties and gender equality, to recommend her appointments at a hearing in the EP and had to provide written answers to 32 additional questions. Czech Television earlier reported that the committee for civil liberties was not convinced by Ms. Jourová’s answers and would require an extra hearing, but the demand was dismissed by the other committees.

Foreign Minister defends Czech embassy over Volynhia Czechs issue

Czech Minister for Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek on Tuesday defended the work of the Czech ambassador to Ukraine Ivan Počuch. Mr. Zaorálek said he did not agree with President Miloš Zeman’s claim that the Czech embassy in Ukraine had neglected its duty by failing to register the demands of over 200 Volynhia Czechs for repatriation to their old country. Speaking at a meeting with journalists minister Zaorálek said that the president had not asked him to dismiss the Czech ambassador. The Foreign Minister said while he understood the concerns of Volynhia Czechs their situation had to be evaluated realistically.

Czech Republic ranks 42nd in global index of economic freedom

The Czech Republic ranks 42nd among the world’s most economically free countries, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, which was released on Tuesday. The index was introduced in 1996 and measures economic freedoms such as levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets or security of privately owned property by analysing policies and institutions of 152 countries. According to the report, based on 2012 statistics, Hong Kong is the most economically free country, while Venezuela placed at the bottom of the ladder. The Czech Republic moved up ten spots in the rankings compared to last year.

Deputy Head of Czech Bar Association nominated for constitutional judge

Czech President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday nominated David Uhlíř, the deputy head of the Czech bar Association, for a judge of the Constitutional Court. The nomination has to be approved by the Senate within the next two months. David Uhlíř has been working as a lawyer since 1979, specializing mainly in civil and business law. He is also teaching at the Faculty of Law at the Charles University in Prague.

Finance Ministry evacuated over hoax bomb threat

The seat of the Ministry of Finances in Prague was evacuated on Tuesday at around 1.30 PM after receiving an anonymous bomb threat. More than six hundred employees and members of the public had to leave the building. Police search revealed that the phone call had been a hoax and the ministry reopened some two hours later.

Kobra targets tobacco and alcohol tax evasion

The Czech police unit Kobra, which specializes in financial and tax fraud, has been carrying out raids around the country targeting the sale of unlicensed tobacco products. Several people were reportedly arrested in the course of Tuesday morning. According to the daily Hospodářské noviny, the operation code-named River is also targeted at alcohol tax evasion. The special unit was set up in July of this year by the Czech Finance Ministry and includes experts from the tax and customs administration and the police.

Contract to build unique laser system for ELI Beamlines centre signed

The Czech Academy of Sciences’ Physics Institute has signed a contract with a US-European consortium, led by the US National Energetics company, for the development and delivery of a unique laser system for the ELI Beamlines centre. The 10-PW laser system will be one of the key technology elements of the facility. The world’s most efficient laser will produce the brightest pulses of light ever generated, with the intensity exceeding about 10 times values currently available from the existing lasers. According to the director of the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Physics Institute Jan Řídký, its costs are expected to amount to 40 million US dollars. The construction of the ELI Beamlines centre in Dolní Břežany began in 2012. The centre is set to begin operation in 2016.

Czech winemakers expect low production

Czech winemakers are cutting their wine outlook this year due to poor weather conditions. Heavy rains in late August and early September, resulted in grape losses due to rotting. The production of wine is expected to reach around 500,000 hectolitres, which is nearly 30 percent less than in the previous year.

Police, firefighters search subway tunnels

Transit on Prague’s “B” metro line between the stations Smíchovské nádraží and Zličín was not operational in the early hours of Tuesday – between 5 and 6 AM - after metro line dispatchers reported spotting suspicious movement on the tracks, according to the news site iDnes. Movement in the tunnel was spotted between the Lužiny and Nové Butovice staions. Employees of the transit authority as well as police officers and firefighters searched the area but found no sign of trespassers. After 6 AM, trains resumed operation along the entire line B but only sporadically at first. Between 5 and 6 AM, the Prague Transit Authority provided replacement busses for commuters.

Designblok gets underway

The biggest annual design festival in the Czech Republic, Designblok, gets underway in Prague on Tuesday. Now in its sixteenth year, the festival brings a record number of more than a hundred designers from sixteen countries of Europe. Their works will be displayed in five different venues in the centre of Prague, including the Art-Nouveau Hotel Evropa at Wenceslas Square. The festival will be running until Sunday.