The Pirate Party has asked the European Commission to reconsider the classified status of the audit which has allegedly found Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to be in a conflict of interest over EU subsidies paid to the Agrofert holding he founded and placed in a trust fund two years ago, Deník N’s news site reported on Tuesday. The chairman of the Pirates Ivan Bartoš also said that Prague City Hall, which is currently led by a mayor from the Pirate Party, has commissioned a legal opinion on the consequences of publicising the European Commission audit.
Students at Czech schools have improved in their reading, mathematics and
science abilities, according to Education Ministry and Czech School
Inspection officials, who unveiled the latest Programme for International
School Assessment rankings at a press conference on Tuesday.
Out of the 79 countries and economic regions that took part in the rankings, the Czech Republic placed 25 in reading comprehension, 22 in mathematics and 21 in science. Altogether Czech students improved their scores in all categories compared to the last measurement which took place in 2015, also exceeding EU average scores.
However, the results did not reach the scores achieved in the early 2000s and also showed a regional disparity of education quality. According to Chief School Inspector Tomáš Zatloukal, skill differences between pupils in Prague and the Ústí nad Labem Region are equivalent to roughly two grades.
The Programme for International Student Assessment, commonly referred to as PISA is currently one of the largest and most respected education level measurement rankings. Organised by the OECD, it takes place every three years.
The Court of Justice of the European Union has dismissed the Czech
Republic’s case against the validity of an EU directive introducing
stricter rules on the acquisition and possession of firearms, Czech
Television reported on Tuesday. The Czech government hoped to cancel the
directive, which bans certain semi-automatic weapons and magazines, because
it considered it too restrictive on gun owners.
The directive was originally proposed in reaction to a wave of terrorist attacks in Europe and was approved by the European Council and Parliament in 2017. The court stated on Tuesday that the Czech objections were unfounded. EU authorities did not exceed their powers by adopting the directive, nor did they interfere with the rights of arms owners or holders, Czech Television reports.
A special exhibit has opened up in the Czech Centre in Tokyo mapping the
life of gymnast Vera Čáslavská, who won seven Olympic gold medals in her
career, three of them in Tokyo in 1964. Titled “Věra Čáslavská –
The Road to Freedom“ it focuses not just on the Czech athlete’s
sporting achievements, but also her activity in politics after the Velvet
Revolution and her contributions in developing Czech-Japanese relations.
The free, public exhibition will run until January 31, 2020.
One of the most famous and influential Czech writers, Milan Kundera, has
received Czech citizenship, 40 years after it was revoked following his
emigration to France, the daily Právo reported on Tuesday. The 90-year-old
Mr. Kundera received the official paperwork in his Paris flat from Czech
ambassador to France, Petr Drulák, on November 28.
Mr. Kundera was a reform communist writer during the 1960s and remained committed to reforming Czechoslovak communism even after the Warsaw Pact Invasion of 1968. Eventually, however he relinquished his dreams of reform and emigrated to France in 1975. Four years later he was stripped of his Czechoslovak citizenship.
He remains perhaps the most famous Czech writer currently alive with his works having been translated into a myriad of world languages.
The European Commission audit allegedly stating that Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš is in a conflict of interest is not final and there is no reason why
the Czech Republic should not "fight to the last breath" Regional
Development Minister Klára Dostálová told journalists during a press
conference on Tuesday. She said the Czech Republic will now use the two
month deadline set out by the European Commission, to examine the document.
Mrs. Dostálová also stressed that if Czech officials do not agree with
some of the audit’s conclusions, these could be brought up at a special
European Commission hearing. She also did not rule out the possibility of
appealing to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
According to a statement provided by a European Commission spokesperson for Czech Radio on Monday, the audit is final and the Czech Republic has two months to tell Brussels how it intends to implement the auditors’ recommendations. However, Mrs. Dostálová said today that the original letter sent with the audit stated that the Czech Republic needs to express whether it agrees with it.
Jan Hamáček, leader of the Social Democrats, a junior party in the ruling
coalition, has said his party will not be taking part in a meeting called
by the opposition Pirate Party in response to the EC audit alleged to have
confirmed that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest.
The opposition centre-right parties are seeking coordinated action in response to the news and are calling for the audit to be made public.
The Social Democrats are refusing to be drawn into the dispute, with Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček telling journalists that the audit is primarily the problem of the prime minister’s ANO party.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerová has the EC audit which is alleged to
have confirmed that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest
could lead to a court dispute between the Czech Republic and the EU.
Schillerová told the news site Seznam.cz that although the EU considers the audit to be final, the Czech Republic would use all the available means to defend its position.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš likewise indicated he was ready to fight the issue, telling journalists that the EC did not have the right to interpret Czech legislation.
The European Commission has rejected Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s claim
that the EC audit into his alleged conflict of interest, which arrived in
the Czech Republic on Friday, is not final. A European Commission spokesman
made it clear on Monday that the document is final and the Czech Republic
has two months to respond to the EC’s recommendations. The audit, which
has been sent to the Ministry for Regional Development, remains
However, according to the weekly Respect, which cites two independent sources, the EC’s final audit states that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest both under Czech and EU law and the Czech Republic may subsequently have to return some 450 million crowns in EU subsidies paid to his Agrofert business conglomerate.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš insists that he has fully adhered to the country’s conflict of interest law, by placing the multi-billion crown conglomerate he owns into trust funds. He said on Monday that the EC did not have the right to interpret Czech legislation and if the audit claimed he had a conflict of interest the Czech Republic would fight it.
The integration of Western Balkan countries into the European Union is in
the economic and security interest of the EU, Hungarian Foreign Minister
Peter Szijjarto told journalists in Prague after talks with his Czech,
Polish and Slovak counterparts on Monday. Szijjarto said the accession
talks with these countries had seen little progress in the last six months,
which he considered to be one of the biggest mistakes of the European
Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, who hosted the Visegrad meeting of foreign ministers, likewise expressed support for faster negotiations with the Balkan states. Petříček said he hoped that accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia would be launched next year.
Czech Republic opens up to more tourists from Europe and beyond as coronavirus travel restrictions eased
Brno scientists pair with Czech biotech firm to develop healing artificial tears
Traditional tourist sites open to visitors after long break
“There is no reason to panic” — says health minister about Karviná COVID-19 outbreak
Czech scientists researching molecule responsible for ‘cytokine storms’ – deadly consequence of many COVID-19 infections