The EU recovery funds must be distributed fairly among EU member states and
the poorer countries which observed fiscal discipline before the
coronavirus crisis should not be placed at a disadvantage, the prime
ministers of the Visegrad states agreed at their summit in Lednice, south
Moravia on Thursday.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the main criterion for the distribution of the roughly 750 billion euros (20 trillion crowns) should be the decline in gross domestic product of individual countries as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The Czech prime minister said he expected a lengthy debate on the issue, adding that it was too early to say how the money from the reconstruction fund should be distributed, because it is not yet clear to what extent the economies of individual member states will be affected by the pandemic.
The V4 met to coordinate their position on the proposed EU recovery plan ahead of a meeting of the European Council, due to take place next week.
While Poland and Slovakia responded positively to the recovery plan outlined, the Czech Republic and Hungary have been more critical of the fact that it favours richer countries prone to racking up excessive debt.
The recovery plan is due to be debated at a video-conference of the European Council on June 19th.
The Senate has approved a constitutional amendment that would ensure that
Czech citizens have a right to keep and bear arms in self-defence.
The bill, which would put gun owners’ rights in the constitution, is an effort to offset restrictive changes stemming from the European Union’s Firearms Directive, which the Czech Republic unsuccessfully challenged at the European Court of Law.
The fate of the proposed amendment will now be decided in the lower house.
The prime ministers of the Visegrad Group countries (Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Poland, Hungary) are meeting in Lednice Chateau in south Moravia
on Thursday to coordinate their position on the proposed EU recovery plan
ahead of a meeting of the European Council, due to take place next week. It
will be the first meeting in person of V4 leaders since the outbreak of the
The recovery plan should distribute 750 billion euros among EU member countries, from which the Czech Republic should receive about 20 billion euros (about 550 billion crowns). Italy and Spain are slated to be the biggest recipients of aid.
The Czech Republic and Hungary have reservations about the proposal, while Slovakia and Poland support it. The goal of the V4 summit in Lednice is to try to find a common position on the issue.
This year's economic downturn in the Czech Republic will be the fifth
steepest in the world, according to an estimate by the Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
According to the projection only the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France will be worse off.
The OECD predicts that the Czech gross domestic product will fall by 9.6 percent this year, and the country will experience a recovery in 2021 when the economy will grow by 7.1 percent.
In the event of a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic in the autumn, the GDP would fall by 13.2 percent, and next year it would rise by only 1.7 percent.
The Czech Republic has seen healthy growth in the past years which accounts for the predicted steep fall this year.
The Czech health authorities have ordered an extra 70,000 vaccines against
the seasonal flu this year and are urging senior citizens and people with
chronic illnesses to get vaccinated.
There has been concern about the fact that a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic could coincide with an epidemic of the seasonal flu, which, given the similar symptoms, would require a huge number of tests for coronavirus, and risk overloading the health system.
The Czech Republic, which has just seen a significant easing of coronavirus restrictions, has close to 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. 328 people have died and 2,348 are currently fighting the disease. Wednesday’s increase of 73 cases is the highest number registered since June 3.
While coronavirus lockdown measures are gradually being lifted in a
multitude of countries across the world, many governments are still
advising their citizens to maintain social distancing. Now, Czech inventors
Michal Kuzmiak and Tomáš Ječný have developed the Proximity monitor, a
device that resembles a wristwatch that begins vibrating and flashes a red
light as soon as it detects the same device in a set proximity, news site
Novinky.cz reported on Thursday.
The authors say the Proximity monitor functions up to a distance of 10 meters, but has been set up to vibrate at 2 meters upon recommendation from hygienists. The device needs to be charged once a week.
Michal Kuzmiak says the device could be especially useful in communities such as care homes, or medical facilities, which house those most at risk from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The Czech Republic ranks eighth on the 2020 Global Peace Index, climbing
two places up the ladder as compared to last year, according to this
year’s report by the Institute for Economics & Peace.
Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008. It is joined at the top of the index by New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark.
Afghanistan is the least peaceful country in the world for the second year in a row, followed by Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen.
Europe is the most peaceful region with 13 European countries ranked among the top 20.
The world is now considerably less peaceful than it was at the inception of the index. Since 2008 the average level of country peacefulness has deteriorated 3.76 per cent.
The GPI ranks 172 independent states and territories.
The Czech airline Smartwings restored its flight connection from Prague to
Split on Wednesday, which will operate three times a week, Czech Television
reports. Further connections between Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Bulgaria and
Czech airports are to be restored in July.
Czech Airlines, which are currently flying to Paris, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Frankfurt and Stockholm, announced they will restore connections to Kosice, Budapest and London by the end of June.
Meanwhile Ryanair has announced that it will restore twenty flights from Prague from July 1, although the specific destinations of the flights have not yet been announced.
The council of the current rulling coalition of the ANO party and the
Social Democrats agreed on Wednesday to lower the rate of the planned
digital tax to 5 percent. If passed by Parliament, the tax will be payed by
internet companies operating with a budget of EUR 750 million or higher. A
further condition is that these companies' annual turnover in the
Czech Republic is at least as high as CZK 100 million.
Originally the plan was for the tax to be 7 percent. However, Finance Minister Alena Schillerová proposed a lower rate on the basis that the original rate was the highest among countries which are planning to implement the digital tax.