The European Court of Justice has rejected a lawsuit filed by the European Commission against the Czech Republic and six other EU countries over their VAT rules for travel agents, the court said in a statement on Thursday. The European Commission sued the EU member states over the fact that travel agents were placed in a separate Vat category which applied not just to travellers but also to other clients. The commission believed this represented a breach of an EU directive. However, the court said the directive’s wording in various languages was too vague, and can be therefore applied to all clients.
The Czech authorities have asked schools to make a count of Romany pupils with light mental disorders, the news website idnes.cz reported on Thursday. The Czech School Inspectorate, part of the Education Ministry, is planning to use the data as evidence at the European Court of Human Rights that the number of Romany children segregated in special schools is declining. The Czech Republic has come under severe international criticism for placing disproportionately large numbers of Romany children in special schools because of their alleged mental disorders. The news website reported that some school directors objected to the request, complaining about racial profiling and the vague definition of Romany. The school inspectorate however warned that if schools fail to provide the figures, school inspectors will do the counting themselves.
The Czech National Bank on Thursday kept its key interest rate at a record low of 0.05 percent. The bank last changed the 2-week repo rate in November, lowering it by 20 basic points to the current value. Analysts believe the central bank will keep the rate unchanged until the end of next year. The bank on Thursday made no decision on launching a currency intervention to lower the value of the Czech crown; however, the bank’s governor, Miroslav Singer said the move was very likely to happen in the future.
The board of directors of Prague’s transit authority on Thursday accepted the resignation of the firm’s CEO, Milan Křístek, a day he offered to step down. Mr Křístek was planning to leave his post by the end of November but the head of the board said that due to ongoing problems of the company, his resignation was accepted without further delay. Commentators say Mr Křístek’s decision to offer his resignation was motivated by waning support he felt from Prague City Hall, the company’s owner over his plans for the company, including increasing the prices of tickets for Prague’s metro, trams and buses.
President Miloš Zeman will not attend the national celebrations of St Wenceslas in Stará Boleslav on Saturday, breaking with a tradition established by his predecessor in office, Václav Klaus. Mr Zeman will instead celebrate his 69th birthday on that day, a spokeswoman for the president said. The celebrations mark the anniversary of the death of St Wenceslas, the Catholic patron saint of the Czech lands and founder of the mediaeval Czech state. September 28 is a national holiday in the Czech Republic. During his term as president, Václav Klaus regularly attended the festivities, using the opportunity to speak on issues of Czech statehood and the national identity.
Two JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets of the Czech Air Force were called out on Wednesday to help a sport plane en route from Germany suffering technical difficulties in Czech air space. The fighter jets helped guide the SR22 Cirrus, with three passengers and one pilot on board, safely to an airfield in Kladno outside of Prague. The plane’s automated communication system had suffered a glitch.
A section of the main Czech D1 motorway between Prague and Brno will be closed several times on Saturday as a new bridge will be constructed at the site, the Transport Ministry said. A 10-kilometre long stretch between Loket and Hořice in central Bohemia will be closed for four 1.5-hour periods starting at 8 PM on Saturday. Cars and vans will be diverted to an alternate route while trucks will have to wait for the road to reopen.
The district of Prague 1 has approved a controversial plan to demolish a building on the corner of Prague’s Wenceslas Square and Opletalová Street, a spokeswoman for the district said. The owner of the building is planning to erect a new structure on the site but was waiting for final approval before taking steps. If no one raises objections within 30 days, the project will be able to move ahead. The planned demolition has drawn protests from a part of the public and saw heated debate; however, the building was denied protection as a historic monument by the authorities.
The lagers Starobrno and Litovel Premium won the Lager of the Year category of the 13th annual Czech Beer contest. Starobrno also won the category of the light draft beers, along with Staropramen while Zubr free was chosen as the best non-alcoholic brew. Over 60 brews participated in this year’s beer tasting contest, organized by the Czech Beer and Malt Association.
Premonstratensian monks at the Želiv monastery in the Vysočina region elected Jáchym Jaroslav Šimek their 51st abbot on Thursday. Father Šimek has until now served as an official of the community. The monastery’s previous abbot resigned due to health reasons after 14 years in office. The Želiv monastery was founded in 1139; in 1950, it was closed by the communist authorities and turned into an internment camp for clergymen. It then housed a psychiatric facility until it was returned to the monastic order and reopened as a monastery after the fall of communism in the 1990s.
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