The Czech Republic may prevent Albania getting candidate status in the EU over a drawn-out dispute between the Czech state-owned firm ČEZ and the Albanian state, the ctk news agency reports citing well-informed sources in Brussels. The Czech Republic filed an international arbitration suit against Tirana after the Albanian authorities revoked ČEZ’s license, seized its assets and forced it out of the country last year. ČEZ is seeking compensation for damage to its investment in the power distribution company ČEZ Shperndarje, which it modernized and expanded at the cost of 100 million euros. Talks between Prague and Tirana on the matter are currently deadlocked. The EC backed Albania’s candidate status in the EU earlier this month and a vote on the issue is expected in the course of the summer in all 28 member states.
The head of the Czech Grant Agency Petr Matějů has resigned from office. Mr. Matějů, who has held the post for six years, said he was resigning due to growing lobbyist pressure from various interest groups who were striving to gain control the agency. He accused these lobbyists of being behind orchestrated smear campaigns which cast doubts on the transparency of the agency’s policy of allocating grants for science and research projects.
The Supreme Administrative Court has upheld the right of the state to establish and operate a DNA database of criminals. The court was dealing with a complaint made by the Office for the Protection of Private Data which argued that the database violated people’s right to privacy. The judge ruled that while such a data base was undisputedly an invasion into people’s privacy rights, offenders of serious crimes, people who had knowingly broken the law, did not merit the same rights to privacy as the general public. The court ruled that the state must have the right to run a database which would serve public interest in helping the police uncover the perpetrators of serious crimes.
President Miloš Zeman is planning to call combined elections to the Senate and local elections for October 10-11, the ctk news agency reported on Monday. The president broke the news on a visit to the Liberec region. The term pertains to the first round of Senate elections, the second round traditionally takes place a week later. Parliament’s upper chamber has 81 members, in single-seat constituencies elected for a six-year term, with one third renewed every even year in the autumn.
The government has plans to revive the Council for Sustainable Development, the ctk news agency reports. The council, which will encompass the former National Economic Council, will have 31 members and will be headed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. It should be made up of cabinet ministers, leading entrepreneurs, academics and non-profit sector representatives. An economic advisory body to the government was set up in 2003 but its influence was gradually marginalized. The National Economic Council was set up in 2009 and disbanded in August of last year.
The Labour Ministry has announced that the concept of social housing it is working on should be ready by September. The concept should clarify who would be eligible for social housing, who would be responsible for it and who would cover the cost of building thousands of new flats for the needy. According to government data there are 30,000 homeless people in the Czech Republic and over 100,000 at risk of losing their homes.
Unemployment in Prague dipped by a tenth of a percentage point to 5.3 percent in May, according to data released by the Czech Labor Office on Monday. Over 44,000 people in Prague are currently looking for work, aged between 18 and 64 years old. This translates into seven applicants per job. Prague traditionally has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The highest unemployment rate –at 11 percent -is reported in north Bohemia.
The School Lunches for Children project established in2013 to help children from socially weaker groups of the population is currently helping 370 primary school children whose parents cannot afford to pay for school lunches, Czech Television reported. The fund to pay for children’s lunches was established following a Czech TV report made at the initiative of schoolteachers who pointed to the fact that some children did not lunch in the canteen or bring snacks to school and whose parents clearly had problems buying school necessities. According to statistics a fifth of Czech children are affected by poverty.
The health authorities have issued further warnings to the public in connection with the ongoing heat wave in the central Europe. Paramedics report a heightened number of emergency calls around the country with hundreds of people reportedly collapsing from dehydration and heat exposure. People have been warned not to exert themselves in the heat and significantly increase their intake of liquids. Tuesday is expected to be a critical day with temperatures hitting 36 degrees Celsius.
Temperature records were broken at monitoring stations around the country on Sunday as the ongoing heat wave sent temperatures over the 30 degrees Celsius mark. Forty-four out of 135 stations reported record highs for June 8th with Brandys nad Labem, north of Prague reporting 33 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are reported to rise further at the start of the week and should peak at 36 degrees on Tuesday. Heat storms are expected in the late afternoon hours and doctors have issued health warnings to the public.