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Report: Czechs have drawn paltry 3% of available EU energy-savings subsidies

The Czech Republic through the end of 2017 had drawn down only 3 per cent of the nearly 850 million euros worth of subsidies allocated to the country from 2014 to 2020 towards implementing energy-savings schemes.

According to a new Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) report, the lengthy approval process is a major factor in the country’s failure to make sufficient use of the available EU funds.

The country has set itself a goal of saving 51 petajoules worth of energy by 2020. Of that amount, 20 petajoules should be guaranteed through European funding. However, not even 1 per cent of the target was achieved by the end of 2017, according to the NKÚ report.

Authorities warn of high brushfire risk due to drought

Due to prolonged drought, the Czech Republic faces an increased risk of brush fires, especially in Central Bohemia and in the northern Bohemian regions of Ústí nad Labem and Česká Lípa.

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) issued a warning on Monday banning people to refrain from making campfires in central Bohemia, noting that more fires ignite from negligence than from natural causes such as lightning strikes. Prague City Hall later also issued a ban on making fires until the heightened danger passes.

April and May were the hottest in the past 58 years while June was the fifth warmest in nearly six decades. The average temperature for July is also expected to be above average. Over the weekend, fires broke out on forested land in Kokořín, a protected wildlife zone in central Bohemia, and in a remote area a few kilometres away.

Ministry plans training for cyber warfare specialists

The Czech Ministry of Defence plans to have dozens of specialists in cyber warfare trained by the end of this year, iHned.cz reported on Monday. They will receive instruction in how to protect websites from hackers from the Czech-Israeli owned firm CyberGym Europe, the news website said.

A company representative said it was able to draw on Israeli know-how in the cyber warfare field.

Report: EU farm subsidies causing decline of some bird species

Numbers of some bird species have greatly declined in the Czech Republic since the country joined the European Union, iDnes.cz reported, citing a Charles University study. The researchers behind the report say that EU agricultural subsidies have led to a change in farming methods and subsequently caused the crested lark, meadow pipit and other birds to become increasingly rare.

Agricultural output has jumped by around one-quarter per hectare since 2004, when the Czechs joined the EU. In the same period the population of field birds has declined by around one-third.

Permission to demolish Brutalist-style Transgas building in Prague sought

The owner of the Transgas building in central Prague, described by some historians as an exceptional example of Brutalist architecture, has requested permission to demolish the structure.

Prague 2 district authorities now have three weeks to respond to the request from the owner, the international property developer HB Reavis.

A group of architects and preservationists had lobbied to have the Transgas building, which is situated above Wenceslas Square and built in the 1970s, classified a cultural heritage site.

One in five Czechs has a university education

The percentage of Czechs with a university education has increased significantly over the past 10 years, data published on Monday by the statistical office (ČSÚ) shows. Last year, roughly 20 per cent of Czechs had a university degree, up from 12.1 per cent in 2007. However, the figure still lags behind the European Union average, which is about 6.4 percentage points higher.

The most educated population lives in Prague, where nearly four out of 10 adults hold a university degree. The regions with the lowest percentage of degree-holders are Karlovy Vary and Ústí nad Labem, according to the data, which was drawn from the most recent Labour Force Survey.

Early-medieval Slavs in Mikulčice cultivated cannabis and poppies

Inhabitants of the Great Moravian fortified settlement in Mikulčice, which dates back to the 8th century, cultivated cannabis and poppies, as well as peaches, pears and nuts, new research has found.

A team from the Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic specialising in archaeobotany has said a surprising number of ancient vineyards have been uncovered in the region. Some varieties of grapes cultivated by the ancient Slavs have yet to be classified and may have gone extinct or been hybrids, a researcher told the Czech News Agency.

The Great Moravian fortified settlement is linked to the medieval Christian missionaries SS Cyril and Methodius, who created a special script for Slavs and translated basic Christian texts into Old Slavonic.

Weather outlook

Tuesday should be sunny in Prague and central Bohemia, with light cloud cover expected mainly in Moravia. Daytime temperatures are expected to climb to 31 degrees Celsius. On Wednesday, showers and even thunderstorms are likely in both Vysočina and Moravia.