The European Parliament’s group the European People’s Party wants to
initiate a new anti-oligarch law to assure a fairer distribution of EU
money. Among other things, it criticizes the dual role of Czech Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš who is involved in EU budget negotiations on behalf
of his country and at the same time, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of
EU funds in the Czech Republic.
Speaking at a plenary debate on the case of Andrej Babiš’ conflict of interest earlier this week, MEP Monika Hohlmeier, Chairwoman of the Budgetary Control Committee, pointed out that the Agrofert company linked to the Czech Prime Minister is one of the biggest Czech recipients of agricultural fund.
“What we see in the Czech Republic and some other member states is that a couple of oligarchs profit from EU funds at the expense of Czech and other European taxpayers. This is why the EPP Group will initiate a new anti-oligarch law on how a fairer distribution of EU money can be guaranteed,” she said.
Mrs Hohlmeier is due to visit the Czech Republic in February as part of a mission to assess the country’s management of EU funds.
Air pollution in some parts of the Czech Republic, namely the
Moravia-Silesia region, has worsened, the Czech Hydro-meteorological
Institute said on Friday.
The amounts of air-borne dust particles exceed permitted levels at most monitoring stations in the region.
The Moravia-Silesia region is one of the most polluted in Europe due to heavy industry on both sides of the Czech-Polish border. Air pollution is a problem especially in the winter months, when the situation is aggravate by coal heating.
The digitally restored version of Ecstasy, a 1933 film by Czechoslovak
director Gustav Machatý, is due to be screened at Lucerna cinema in Prague
on Friday evening. The screening will be preceded by a performance of the
Czech Radio’s Symphony Orchestra.
The film, featuring Hedy Lamarr in her first major role, was first screened
at the same cinema on January 18, 1933. It was highly controversial in its
time because of nude scenes and its portrayal of sexual intercourse and the
Ecstasy was digitally restored by the National Film Archive in cooperation with the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Last year, it won an award for best-digitally restored film at the international film festival in Venice.
Following the premiere, the film will go into distribution in cinemas all around the Czech Republic.
Nine researchers from Brno’s Masaryk University set out on Friday on a
two-month expedition to the Johan Gregor Mendel Polar Station on
Antarctica’s James Ross Island.
The 11-member international team, including climatologists and ecologists,
will be studying the impacts of the climate change on icebergs and Arctic
nature. The university-run station opened in 2006 and was named after the
Moravian botanist Johann Gregor Mendel.
Another group of scientists will set off to the newly acquired polar base at Nelson Island in the South Shetlands at the end of January.
The government‘s Council for Human Rights has supported Helena Válková
in the post of government commissioner for human rights in the wake of a
scandal concerning her activities under the communist regime.
Two council members - attorney Tomáš Němeček and Hubert Smekal from the Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University – resigned in protest of the outcome of the vote.
Válková, who is accused of having defended laws which the communist authorities used to harass dissidents and co-authored an article with the notorious communist prosecutor who sent Milada Horáková to the gallows, told reporters that she had apparently managed to better explain all the circumstances of her case and had gained support in the council.
The Government Council for Human Rights has 25 members. Fifteen of them are representatives of the Office of the Government, ministries and other institutions. Ten members represent the public, among them the two who resigned. Another member of the council, philosopher Daniel Kroupa, resigned last year when Válková took up her post.
The Czech Republic and Austria enjoy good bilateral relations despite
differences in the perception of nuclear energy, Czech Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told journalists
following bilateral talks in Prague on Thursday.
The heads of government found common ground on a number of issues including migration, security and business and trade.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz noted at their joint press briefing that the Czech Republic is Austria's largest and most important trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe.
Earlier in the day he attended a meeting with the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary) to discuss climate and energy issues.
Chancellor Kurz made it clear that Austria did not like the idea that EU subsidies intended to help member states phase-out coal mining and boost alternate energy sources should be used for nuclear energy.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Visegrad Four counterparts met in
Prague on Thursday to discuss energy and climate change with Austrian
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
The V4 summit attended by the Austrian chancellor focussed on energy and EU climate change policy, areas where the positions of Austria and the V4 (which includes Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) differ significantly.
Unlike Austria, the V4 countries say achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is not possible without building more nuclear power plants.Austria does not like the idea that EU money paid to help phase-out coal mining and boost alternate energy sources should be used for nuclear power.
PM Babiš argues that in the interests of “energy security” and ecomomic growth, the Czech Republic must build new nuclear units even if it contravenes European Union law.
The talks also covered EU funding and migration where the heads of government found more common ground.They agreed on the need to fight illegal migration,rejected the idea of obligatory migrant quotas and stressed the importance of defending the EU's outer borders.
Since the talks were held on the anniversary of the death of student martyr Jan Palach, the prime ministers laid flowers at the Palach memorial at the top end of Wenceslas Square where Palach set himself on fire in protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet-led invasion.
Czechs are marking the 51st anniversary of the self-immolation of Prague
university student Jan Palach, who set himself alight in protest at apathy
in the face of the Soviet occupation.
Memorial ceremonies have been held in Palach’s Central Bohemian hometown of Všetaty, where his childhood home recently became a museum in his honour, and towns and cities around the country.
In Prague people have gathered to pay homage to his memory on Wenceslas Square where he set himself alight, at Charles University, where he studied, and at Olsany Cemetery where he is buried.
Jan Palach died in agony on January 19, three days after setting himself on fire. Some 200,000 people turned out for his funeral. In death, he would become known as “the conscience of the nation”.