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EU commissioner says grants are available to fight dual quality of products around EU

EU member states who feel that they are getting inferior quality food products as compared to the same brands sold elsewhere will be able to request an EU grant for their testing, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender-equality, Věra Jourová, said on Thursday.

Commissioner Jourová made the statement just a day after EC President Jean Claude Junker called for the problem to be addressed in his “state of the union” speech.

The commissioner said the EU had both funds and instruments to deal with the problem and the authorities in the respective states would be advised on how to proceed.

Italian developer Grandi Stazioni suing Czech Railways

Italian developer Grandi Stazioni is suing Czech Railways and the Czech Finance Ministry for prematurely terminating its lease of the Main Railway Station in Prague.

The company is demanding 1.2 billion crowns in lost profit, according to the daily Lidove Noviny.

Grandi Stazioni lost its 30-year lease of the station in October of last year after repeatedly failing to meet reconstruction deadlines.

The Czech Railway Infrastructure Administration rejected its request for another two-year extension and asked Grandi Stazioni to vacate the premises.

Czech Railways said it would pay the developer 565 million crowns in compensation for the money already invested in the reconstruction of the station.

Czechs mark 80 years since the death of president T.G. Masaryk

Czechs are marking 80 years since the death of Czechoslovakia’s first president T. G. Masaryk.

Masaryk had great merit in bringing about the establishment of an independent state of Czechs and Slovaks after WWI and as the country’s first president laid down the foundations of democracy.

Dubbed the Father of the Nation, Masaryk was a much loved and respected politician and is revered to this day.

Events are being held around the country to mark the anniversary of his death.

The main commemorative event will take place on Hradčany Square in Prague beneath the statue of Czechoslovakia’s first president.

The National Museum has opened an exhibition titled The phenomenon Masaryk and a remembrance act will also take place at Lány Chateau where the president spent much of his time.

Trade unions to demand 8 to 10 percent wage hike

Trade unions will demand an 8 to 10 percent increase in wages in negotiations with employers, the head of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions Josef Středula told a gathering of 1,500 trade union leaders from around the country in Prague on Thursday.

The President of the Union of Industry and Transport Jaroslav Hanak dismissed the demand as unrealistic saying the unions were racking up political pressure ahead of the elections.

The gathering of trade union leaders in Prague is attended by union representatives from Slovakia, Austria and Germany.

Ministry issues temporary ban on commercial logging

The Agriculture Ministry has issued a temporary ban on commercial logging saying that the processing of trees felled due to bark-beetle infestation or damage caused by hurricane winds must be given priority.

The ban is expected to last until the end of the year. Moravia and Silesia have been severely affected by bark beetle infestation and the situation was made worse by the recent hurricane winds which damaged large areas of forests.

Forestry workers face similar problems in Poland and Germany, and the extensive logging activity is bringing down the price of wood.

Police charge 18 in connection with massive fuel fraud scheme

Police have charged 18 people in connection with a massive fuel fraud scheme that robbed state coffers of approximately 40 million crowns in 2012, the ctk news agency reported.

The suspects are charged with tax evasion and money laundering. The scheme reportedly involved 12 companies active at home and abroad.

If they are convicted the suspects could face up to ten years in jail.

Weather forecast

Friday should bring partly cloudy skies with scattered showers and day temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.