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Czech and Finnish PMs call for viable EU asylum system

The European Union needs a strong and viable asylum system, the Czech and Finnish heads of government Andrej Babis and Juha Sipila agreed during their talks in Helsinki on Monday.

The two officials said migration was an issue on which the EU badly needed to reach consensus and stressed that migrant quotas were obviously not the answer. The two heads of government said they also had a similar take on EU budget issues, post Brexit.

The Czech Prime Minister is also scheduled to attend the Czech-Finnish business forum and sign a memorandum on Czech accession to the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which has been operating in Helsinki since April 2017.

Before his departure, Mr Babiš told journalists he would also like to visit a Finnish primary school and university to find inspiration for Czech school reform.

EU Commissioner Jourová: EU states needs to stick together

It is in the vital interest of EU member states to stick together and improve the workings of the European Union, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová has stressed.

Addressing a conference titled Challenges for Europe organized by the Prague-based Institute for Politics and Society, Jourova said the European Commission should have a decisive word in fewer areas and secure better cooperation in areas where a joint policy was essential.

She also noted that European politicians should do a better job in explaining EC decisions to the public.

Regarding the Czech Republic’s role in the EU Jourova said Prague should be more active in defending its position and putting forward new proposals and should not try to stick at all costs with Hungary and Poland who have been criticized by the European Commission for failing to respect the principles of liberal democracy.

Social Democrats referendum on coalition with ANO gets underway

An internal referendum of the Social Democrats on whether to take part in a coalition government with ANO gets underway on Monday. The referendum, which will run until June 14, will be valid if at least a quarter of the party membership takes part. The results will be published on June 15.

The Social Democrats last week announced the names of the party’s nominees for the five portfolios the Social Democrats should get in the cabinet. The names included party leader Jan Hamáček, who should head the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The party also insists on Miroslav Poche’s candidature for the post of foreign minister, despite president Zeman’s disapproval.

The Social Democrats have been deeply divided about forming a government with ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who is facing criminal charges for alleged EU subsidy fraud, and the result of the referendum is expected to be tight.

Social Affairs Ministry wants to employ Ukrainian caregivers

The Czech Republic will seek to bring around 2,000 Ukrainian care-givers to the Czech Republic under a special project, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jaroslava Němcová told journalists on Monday.

Social services in the Czech Republic have been struggling to deal with a lack of caregivers in old-age homes and institutions for disabled people. Němcová said other areas of the economy would also benefit from facilitating the process of issuing work permits for Ukrainians willing to fill the growing number of vacancies on the job market.

There are currently over 374,000 foreigners working in the country, of those 70,000 are Ukrainian nationals.

Marshal Konev statue to get new plaque

The Prague 6 authorities have said they will place a plaque at the statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev, erected in commemoration of his role in helping to liberate Czechoslovakia from Nazi oppression, which would put into better perspective his role in history. The plaque is to be ready by the end of June and should help prevent the statue’s repeated vandalization.

Marshal Konev is a controversial figure in the Czech Republic, since as well as liberating the country in WWII, he was involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and was also present in Berlin for the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

His statue has been spray painted in protest on several occasions in recent years, most recently on V-day when the dates 1956 and 1961 appeared on the statue in red paint.

Price of petrol steadily climbing

The price of petrol and diesel is rising and is now at its most expensive since 2015, the ctk news agency reports.

The price of petrol has now reached 32.23 crowns per litre on average and analysts predict it could reach 34 crowns per litre in the course of the summer.

The price of crude oil has been rising due to a growing global demand and the crown is weaker against the dollar than expected.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should bring partly cloudy skies with day temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.