The European Commissioner for migration, home affairs, and citizenship, Dimitris Avramopulos, has challenged the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to show through their action over their next month that they believe in the principles of the European Union. According to the agency DPA, the Commissioner laid down the challenge during a speech in Athens on Thursday. It follows the Commission’s decision Tuesday giving the three countries a month to comply with commitments to take their part of an agreed share out of immigrants in Greece and Italy. The Commission can take the three central European states to the European Court of Justice, where they could face major fines, if they are found guilty.
The STAN movement of independents and mayors announced Thursday that former mayor of Simily and member of parliament Jan Farský will lead the party in the national campaign for elections to the lower house of parliament in October. Party chairman Petr Gazdik said he wanted to focus on reorganisation within the party and hoped to lead the party’s ticket in the Zlín region. Party leaders said they were targeting an election score of 7 percent. STAN decided this week they would go it alone in the upcoming elections by rejecting an offer from the Christian Democrats to run on their ticket.
Three former members of the communist era secret police, the StB, have been charged in connection with threats used against a doctor to make him quit the country, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Thursday. The threats included killing members of the doctor’s family. The doctor eventually quit Czechoslovakia for West Germany in 1983 but returned after the end of the regime in 1989. The three men, now in their 60s, could face 10 year sentences if found guilty. The StB, as part of the so-called Asanace measure, encouraged dissidents to leave the country from the end of the 1970s.
Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický is due to meet with the minister of finance Ivan Pilný on Thursday to discuss the defence budget for 2018. Stropnický has warned that the planned allocation for 2018 risks government pledges to boost spending to meet NATO commitments. He has warned that defence spending could be just 1.16 percent of Gross Domestic Product by 2020. This would undershoot the target of 1.4 percent by 2020 and the goal of meeting the NATO target of 2.0 percent by 2024.
Czech car production rose by 5.1 percent in the first half of the year with output totalling 756,468 vehicles, according to the Czech Automobile Industry Association. The country’s biggest producer, Škoda Auto, saw production rocket by 13.5 percent, Hyundai’s output climbed by 0.5 percent, but there was a 15 percent drop from the TPCA joint venture plant. June production was 4.7 percent higher than the corresponding month in 2016. The figures show continued overall growth albeit at a slower pace.
An eight month analysis by economists at one of the country’s biggest banks, ČSOB, has found that many of the jobs being offered in the simply do not offer high enough wages to attract applications from the unemployed. And in spite of complaints about shortages of workers, employers in some of the sectors where staff shortages are worst had only increased their pay offer by an average 350 crowns since the start of the year, the analysis added. The Czech Republic currently boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the EU.
The government is proposing to spend 26.185 billion crowns in 2018 on support for renewable energy, the same amount earmarked for 2017, according to documents sent for comments before a final decision is taken. Total renewable support is an explosive issue in the country amid allegations that a few have profited massively from over generous long term state support at the expense of the many. The outgoing head of the national energy regulator, Alena Vitásková, said her steps to curb support would save every citizen 3,500 crowns a year over 20 years. President Miloš Zeman said this week not enough had been done.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš’s Agrofert got more in grants last year than it paid in taxes, according to the company’s freshly published annual report. Agrofert, which is a major player in the food, agriculture, chemicals and other sectors in the Czech Republic, paid taxes of CZK 1.505 billion and received CZK 1.533 billion in operating subsidies and green bonuses. It made a net profit of CZK 7.8 billion. The report also reveals that Agrofert’s staff was reduced in 2016 and that the company plans to make layoffs in Germany, where it runs bakeries.
Police in Prague are seeking help from the public in the search for a man who stole money from a collection box at the memorial to the heroes of Operation Anthropoid at the Church of Ss. Cyril and Methodius on Prague’s Resslova St. earlier this month. The police posted video on their website of the young man, who took the collection box into the church’s crypt, where members of Jan Kubiš’s and Jozef Gabčík’s group met their deaths in 1942, and smashed the lock. He then made off with around CZK 20,000 donated by visitors to the help the museum continue its operations.