News EC candidate: Talks on postponement of Czech civil service bill possible

31-07-2014 13:29 | Jan Velinger

The introduction of new civil service legislation by January 1, 2015 is not an ultimatum set by the European Union and a postponing of the deadline could still be negotiated, the Czech candidate for European commissioner Věra Jourová said on Thursday in an interview for Czech TV. She made the statement as it remains unclear whether the coalition government will succeed in pushing through its amendment in the lower house, even though it has a majority, due to the right-wing opposition doing its utmost to preventing a vote on the amendment from taking place. The opposition TOP 09 and Civic Democrats say they will not stop blocking the session unless the coalition accepts a number of changes to the amendment. The ruling coalition Social Democrats, ANO and Christian Democrats discussed the matter on Thursday.

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NGOs criticise bill aimed at combating money laundering

28-07-2015 11:49 | Ian Willoughby

Anti-corruption activists have criticised a planned bill aimed at combating money laundering that will create a register of real owners of companies. In a statement on Tuesday the Centre for Independent Investigation said the legislation, which has been prepared for the Ministry of Finance by the Ministry of Justice, will not produce the desired outcome as its contents will not be complete. They and three other NGOs also say access to the data will be limited, with journalists only being able to use it to prevent “crimes and the financing of terrorism”. The Ministry of Justice said the bill was not aimed at creating a public database of firms’ ownership and power structures but at reducing money laundering and the financing of terrorism. 

New association of Czech and Polish regions plans to draw on EU funds

28-07-2015 11:35 | Ian Willoughby

Plans have been announced to create a new Czech-Polish association uniting regions on both sides of the border with a view to accessing European Union funds. Novum will be established with a declaration signed in mid-September at the peak of the Mount Sněžka, on the border of the two states, the governor of Hradec Králové Region, Lubomír Franc, said on Tuesday. A dispute over the name, which was originally proposed to be Nové Sudety (New Sudetes), is one reason the association was not set up last year, as originally planned. 

Nature lovers get rare chance to admire Victoria Regia in bloom

28-07-2015 10:12 | Daniela Lazarová

Nature lovers descended on the Botanical Garden in Liberec on Monday night to admire the famous Victoria Regia, also known as the queen of the water lilies in bloom. There are only three of its kind on the continent and the Liberec Botanical Garden acquired this specimen thanks to the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh. The Victoria Regia lily is a rare sight and blooms for just two consecutive nights: white the first night, pink the second. After the second night, the flower closes and disappears under the water surface where the seeds ripen. Each plant can produce a number of flowers, but only one at a time. This is the first time that visitors have been allowed into the Liberec Botanical Garden at night in the garden’s 120-year-history. 

Czech military to spend one billion crowns on rescue helicopter maintenance

28-07-2015 09:58 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech military will pay about one billion crowns for the maintenance of its ten W-3A Sokol rescue helicopters between 2015-2021, Defence Ministry spokesman Petr Medek told the CTK news agency. The government is to debate the respective contract on Wednesday. The Sokol helicopters are mainly used in rescue operations, but also for humanitarian evacuations or for the transport of foreign nationals flown to the Czech Republic for treatment within the MEDEVAC programme. 

Czech Republic and Austria to re-enforce border patrols in view of growing number of illegal migrants

27-07-2015 18:48 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Security and migration issues dominated the agenda of a meeting between Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and his Austrian counterpart Johanna Leitner in Mikulov on Monday. In view of the growing number of illegal migrants in Europe the two sides agreed to strengthen security along their common border by re-enforcing joint border patrols and improving communication between local governments. The number of illegal migrants in the Czech Republic is now counted in the thousands, while neighbouring Austria is dealing with tens of thousands of illegal migrants.Since the majority of illegal migrants are crossing the Hungarian-Serb border, the Czech Republic has likewise offered Hungary police officers, technology and finances to help stem the flow. 

Tripartite meeting over 2016 draft budget

27-07-2015 18:47 | Daniela Lazarová

Representatives of the government, trade unions and employers met on Monday over the government proposed draft budget for 2016. Trade union representatives spoke out in favour of higher investments which would stimulate economic growth arguing that the proposed 70 billion crown deficit could have been higher, but employers expressed approval of the proposed deficit saying that at a time of economic growth there was no reason to increase the gap in spending further. Finance Minister Andrej Babis argues that the proposed 2016 budget is not restrictive and will stimulate the economy while helping to bring the deficit under control. The minister would like to achieve a 60 billion crown deficit in 2017 and a 50 billion crown deficit in 2018. 

Czech Transport Ministry wants to improve conditions for bikers

27-07-2015 16:38 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech Transport Ministry wants to improve conditions for bikers by increasing the number of bike lanes and giving bikers superior rights on some streets. According to a proposed amendment to the road law bikers would have right of way on these streets and cars would have to respect a maximum speed limit of 20 km per hour. This would concern for instance the cobbled winding streets in the city center and in the Old Town where traffic is already slow. The bill is to be debated in Parliament in September. 

Internationally renowned concert pianist Ivan Moravec dies at 84

27-07-2015 15:10 | Daniela Lazarová

The internationally acclaimed Czech concert pianist Ivan Moravec has died at the age of 84. Moravec who studied at the Prague Academy of Music and later with Italian masters captivated audiences in New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Prague and Milan. In October 2000 President Vaclav Havel awarded the pianist the Medal of Merit for Outstanding Artistic Achievement. In January 2002 he was honored with a Cannes Classical Award for Lifetime Achievement, an award given by several international music magazines, and appears on a CD of the piano greats of the 20th century. 

Nine companies announce mass lay-offs

27-07-2015 13:46 | Daniela Lazarová

Nine companies have announced mass lay-offs in the coming months which will put over 500 people out of work, the Czech Labour Office reported on Monday. The lay-offs will affect mainly workers in steel production and engineering. The reasons cited are organizational changes and restriction of production due to loss of assignments. 

Salmonella epidemic puts sixty people in hospital

27-07-2015 13:45 | Daniela Lazarová

Sixty people remain hospitalized in connection with the salmonella epidemic in Western Bohemia that broke out over the weekend. 130 people were treated for severe stomach pains, diarrhoea and fever. Hygiene officers traced the infection to a Plzen food company that delivered 140 portions of spaghetti a la carbonara to several companies in the region. The authorities managed to obtain one of the portions and warn that a limited number could still be in storage since their use-by date has not expired. The firm’s employees have all undergone tests, the results should be available on Wednesday. 

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