The European Commission has criticized the Czech Republic for failing to pass a new law on civil servants and said that the country may lose most of the financing it receives from the EU structural funds starting next year. EU officials are concerned that civil servants, especially at Czech ministries, change together with the political leadership, which thwarts continuity and efficiency of policy implementation. The Czech Republic is the only EU country that has yet to pass a law that would prevent high fluctuation in the civil service. If the Czech Republic does not pass the bill by the end of the year, it could lose up to 500 billion crowns in European funding.
The Constitutional Court has completed the first day of hearings concerning the proposal to repeal the law on church property restitution. The proposal was submitted by 18 senators from the Social Democratic, Communist and Public Affairs parties, who claim the law, which came into effect earlier this year, goes against the separation of church and state. The group suggested a number of witnesses to be heard by the court on Wednesday, but the panel of judges rejected them. According to the disputed legislation, the government will pay out approximately 134 billion crowns in property and financial compensation to religious institutions, as restitution for property taken away from them by the state. After hearing the evidence and final arguments, the Constitutional Court suspended proceedings on Wednesday afternoon until next Monday.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has published a more pessimistic growth outlook for the Czech Republic. The OECD announced on Wednesday that it expects the country’s GDP to contract by 1 percent this year, even though in November it forecast growth of 0.8 percent. It also cut projected growth for next year from 2.4 to 1.3 percent. The organization suggested that the Czech central bank may want to ease monetary policy in order to improve the situation. Czech officials say they are prepared to weaken the crown if necessary.
The government unanimously approved draft legislation that streamlines the structure of public prosecution and introduces a new anti-corruption agency under the auspices of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office. The bill eliminates the High State Attorney offices in Prague and Olomouc, which should strengthen the position of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, according to the Justice Ministry, which submitted the bill. The draft legislation also proposes the Supreme Public Prosecutor be nominated by the justice minister and approved by the president, not the government, for a single 10-year term.
An extremist group is holding an anti-Roma demonstration in the north-Bohemian town of Duchcov on Wednesday afternoon in response to an attack on a couple by a group of Romanis in the town. Media has reported that the main organizer of the demonstration has placed racist and violent remarks on his Facebook page. The police said that they are looking into the posts to see if they are in breach of the law on inciting hatred towards a group. The man also admitted that he is a member of the extremist Workers Party of Social Justice.
A Czech-made methamphetamine known as pervitin has in recent years spread to a number of other European states, the national anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil said at the release of a European report on drugs in Prague. Pervitin addicts have been registered in the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Germany. German officials say dealers and users cross the border to buy the highly addictive drug at markets at Asian-run markets in the Czech Republic. However, Mr. Vobořil rejects a charge from politicians in Bavaria that the Czechs take an overly liberal approach to the matter.
Police in Jeseník, north Moravia have found a man who was missing for 20 years and had been pronounced dead, a spokesperson said. The man, who is 43, had been living under a false identity since disappearing in 1994 in order to avoid a prison term for theft. He apparently came forward in mid-January in the hope of qualifying for an amnesty declared by the former president at the beginning of the year.
During renovation works at the Clementinum complex in central Prague, archeologists uncovered four Jesuit classrooms from the 16th century and the remains of 11 graves from the early Middle Ages. The current buildings making up the Clementinum, which now houses the National Library, were built between the mid-17th and mid-18th centuries by the Jesuits as a dormitory and school. The order took over the location from the Dominicans in the 16th century. The graves that were found in two different parts of the complex come from the 9th or 10th centuries. Most of them, though, were partly damaged during building construction in later centuries. After documenting all the findings, archeologists will close up the site in order to preserve it as a part of the Clementinum national cultural landmark.
Seventh-seeded Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová defeated France’s Aravane Rezai in three sets at the Roland Garros French Open on Wednesday. Kvitová struggled during the match but finally beat Rezai 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in her first-round game in Paris. Four other Czech female players lost their first-round matches. On the other hand, Jan Hájek and Petra Cetkovská will be moving on to the second round together with Kvitová.
Meteorologists are warning of rainstorms with strong winds and possible hail in most of Bohemia and southern Moravia on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday will see heavy rain showers that could possibly raise the water level in rivers in the north and northwest of the country. Flood warnings have been issued for the Ústí nad Labem and Liberec regions.