Daily news summary

Czech PM sceptical regarding EU agreement on finances

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said he does not expect the European Union summit in Brussels to reach agreement on the bloc’s 2021–2027 budget, expressing disappointment that the future budget revenues had not been pre-negotiated in advance of the summit with individual member states.

According to Ondřej Houska, a reporter for Hospodářské noviny, who is following the negotiations in Brussels, the Czech prime minister is insisting that the Czech Republic should get the same allotment as in past years, stressing that the money is badly needed for infrastructure and investments, and wants the country to have a greater say in how the money is to be used. He wants the flexible part of the cohesion funds – which can be transferred from one heading to another – to reach 25 percent.

Scepticism regarding a possible solution prevails with some EU leaders already calling for another summit.

PM will not have to apologize to TI for calling it “corrupt”

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will not have to apologize for defamatory comments he made about the Czech branch of Transparency International, the Central Bohemian regional court ruled on Friday.

According to the court the prime minister’s comments did not significantly violate the organization’s rights and Transparency could have publicly reacted to his words. The verdict is not legally binding.

Ever since TI brought to the EU’s attention a possible conflict of interest involving Mr Babiš and EU funds, the Czech PM has repeatedly described the NGO as corrupt.

Babiš’lawyer said the prime minister had made the comment in reference to the organization’s financing, not its activities. Transparency has said it will appeal the verdict.

Kubera Taiwan trip warning was irregular, Prague tells Chinese ambassador

A deputy Czech minister of foreign affairs informed the Chinese ambassador to Prague on Wednesday that a letter sent by his embassy to the president’s office warning against the consequences of a Czech Senate speaker visiting Taiwan was not standard diplomatic communication. The exchange was made public by the minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček.

News site Aktuálně.cz reported on the letter in January, saying the Office of the President had passed it on to then Senate speaker Jaroslav Kubera. However, Mr. Kubera died before his planned trip to Taiwan could take place.

Mr. Kubera’s freshly elected replacement, Miloš Vystrčil, said he was weighing up whether to travel to Taiwan and would consult the matter with experts.

Health minister: time to gain greater control of pharmaceutical production

Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has said it is high time to take a closer look at the pharmaceutical industry in the light of increasingly frequent fall-outs of various medicines.

In an interview for the daily Hospodarske noviny Minister Vojtěch said the coronavirus epidemic in China had revealed the risks of moving pharmaceutical factories to countries such as China and India in view of lowering the price of medicaments.

This is a problem that is common to all of Europe and in the past two or three years the fall-outs of pharmaceuticals have got much worse, the minister said, noting that the EU should take action to bring back at least part of the production and have greater control over medical deliveries.

Communist Party boss released from hospital after suffering heart attack

Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip, who suffered a heart attack on Wednesday, has been released from hospital into home care, the ctk news agency reported.

The Communist Party boss, who is also one of the deputy speakers of the lower house, underwent heart surgery and is reported to be doing well.

The 65-year old Filip has led the Communist Party since 2005 and plans to run for re-election in the spring.

Former transport minister promises to “tell all” in new book on shady side of politics

The former transport minister Vladimir Kremlík, who was recently sacked for mismanaging a public tender, has announced he is writing a book on the real balance of power and shady political practices taking place behind the scenes.

Kremlík said on social networks that he had completed the first chapter and the public could expect interesting revelations with regard to the National Property Fund, the Unipetrol oil refinery and the energy sector.

He indicated the book would contain erotic parts and read like a detective story.

Kremlík served as transport minister for a year before Prime Minister Andrej Babiš dismissed him for mismanaging an overpriced tender to operate a new online system of motorway vignette sales.

Weather forecast

Saturday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius.