The lower house of Parliament sent a proposal to tax church restitutions
into its third and final reading, due to take place in January of next
The bill was put forward by the Communist Party and has support from the coalition ANO and the Social Democrats as well as the opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy Party.
Taxing money returned to churches, predominantly the Catholic Church, in return for property confiscated by the communists, is a highly sensitive issue. Right-wing opposition parties are vehemently against the idea, arguing that stolen property should be returned without financial strings attached.
Taxing church restitutions was one of the conditions laid down by the Communist Party in return for supporting the minority government.
The army and police enjoy a high level of public trust, according to a poll
conducted by the CVVM agency. Both received a 67 percent trust rating. The
judiciary got a 58 percent trust rating.
Trust in NGOs and the media is significantly lower, with only 48 percent of Czechs saying they trust information broadcast on the radio, the press received a 38 percent trust rating, while television 40 percent.
Only 37 percent of Czechs trust NGOs, which the polling agency says may be linked to the migrant crisis. The country’s churches are bottom of the ladder with a 25 percent trust rating.
The call for the suspension of EU subsidies to companies belonging to the
Agrofert conglomerate founded by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš does
not concern any other businesses in the country, Minister for Regional
Development Klára Dostálová said at a press briefing in Prague on
Thursday. The Ministry for Regional Development coordinates the
distribution of EU funds.
The leader of the coalition Social Democratic Party, Jan Hamáček, said the government would debate the situation around Agrofert at its next session.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has announced it will send a team of auditors to the Czech Republic to look into the distribution of EU subsidies from 2007 until the present day.
The European Parliament has approved a resolution calling on the European
Commission to suspend all EU subsidies to companies belonging to the
Agrofert conglomerate founded by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš until
the question of whether he de facto retains control over it is settled.
The debate in the European Parliament focussed on whether Babiš, who as prime minister can influence the disbursal of both Czech and EU subsidies, has a conflict of interest despite having placed Agrofert in trust funds.
MEPs also discussed subsidies that Slovak-born billionaire Babiš’s agribusiness group is alleged to have abused, especially to finance the so-called “Stork’s nest” project, control of which was allegedly transferred from Agrofert temporarily a decade ago solely to receive EU subsidies meant for small businesses.
Heavy snow, strong winds and icy roads have been complicating traffic
around the country. Traffic police have reported heavy congestion along the
D1 highway from Prague to Brno, where long queues have formed along several
stretches of the road from Central Bohemia to the Vysočina region.Drivers
have been warned not to set out on this route, if possible, until the
situation has improved.
Many roads in the mountain regions have not yet been cleared and drivers heading for ski resorts have been warned to exercise extreme caution.
Czech football club Viktoria Plzeň have secured a place in the Europa
League with a 2-1 victory over AS Roma in the Champions League. Former
national team coach Pavel Vrba’s charges were able to finish Group G with
third place in the victory over Roma, enough to qualify for the Europa
Tomáš Chorý scored the winner with a diving header after Cengiz Ünder had cancelled out Jan Kovařík’s opener – with all three goals coming in the second half of the match, over a 16-minute span.
For AS Roma, even before the last group match on Wednesday a spot in the European top class was clear. Meanwhile, in the second match of Group G, CSKA Moscow handed Real Madrid the Spanish club’s worst ever European home loss.
CSKA need to better Plzeň’s result in the Czech Republic in order to finish third, with both teams already out of contention for the Champions League knockout stage.
The Czech Senate has condemned Russia’s detention of Ukrainian ships in
the Black Sea this November as a “gross violation of international law”
and is calling on EU leaders to take a clear position on the matter at the
upcoming European Council.
In a resolution adopted on Wednesday with the support of 57 out of 63 members present, the upper house of Parliament said “The European Council should take a clear view of the use of force in the Kerch Strait” because the destabilization of the region threatens “the whole of the European Union”.
In late November the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate recalled the right of vessels to access the Sea of Azov, to where the Ukrainian ships had been headed. Russia claims the vessels had crossed into its waters, but that is based on its illegal claim to Crimea, which it seized in 2014.
Under a treaty ratified by Ukraine and Russia in 2004 that is still in force, the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait were defined as shared territorial waters.
The Senate resolution adopted on Wednesday said blocking access was a “gross violation of international law” and also called for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine to be respected and for the immediate release of the captured Ukrainian sailors.
The government has approved a joint recommendation by the Ministry of
Finance and Czech National Bank not to set a target date for adopting the
euro for the time being.
The decision is based on information contained in the annual assessment of the Czech Republic’s fulfilment of the Maastricht convergence criteria and economic alignment with the Euro area.
This annual assessment, which maps out the country’s economic preparedness for adopting the common European currency, has been taken every year since 2004, when the Czech Republic joined the European Union.
According to the central bank, the Czech Republic will probably be compliant this year with all the Maastricht convergence criteria except for the exchange rate criterion, as it does not yet participate in the relevant mechanism. Continued compliance with these criteria is likely in the medium term.