Daily news summary
Opposition parties say Agrofert must return any EU funds Brussels requests
Opposition parties debating the EC’s audit into the Czech prime minister’s alleged conflict of interest in the lower house on Thursday called for the audit to be made public and for the business consortium Agrofert, which is behind the said conflict of interest, to cover the cost of any EU funds which the Czech Republic may be forced to return as a result.
The Civic Democrats have also called for the setting up of a special commission which would monitor how the government implements the Commission’s recommendations in order to make sure that it acts in the best interests of the country, rather than those of the prime minister.
Prague City Hall will not make EC audit on Czech PM public
Prague City Hall, which received a copy of the EC audit into Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ alleged conflict of interest has said it will not make the document public.
The audit is marked confidential, but Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said earlier the City Council would talk to lawyers about the possibility of making it public. There has been growing pressure for this to be done across the political scene.
According to the weekly Respekt, which citied two independent sources close to the Commission, the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest and the Czech Republic will have to return millions of crowns in EU funds as a result.
Million Moments for Democracy call another demonstration against PM Babiš
The anti-government protest movement Million Moments for Democracy plans to hold another series of protests before year’s end, following a decision by Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman to renew the prosecution of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš over his alleged abuse of EU funds.
The Million Moments initiative has held protests against the prime minister since the end of April, when the police proposed that he be charged with EU subsidy fraud, demanding the resignation of both the Prime Minister and Justice Minister Marie Benešová.
The last demonstration organised by Million Moments took place at Prague’s Letná plain on November 16, attracting some 300,000 people.
PM’s ANO party still strongly in the lead in public support ratings
The prime minister’s ANO party is still way ahead of political rivals in public support ratings, despite the scandals surrounding its leader, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
A November survey indicates that the party would win general elections collecting 30.5 percent of the vote.
The centre-right Pirate Party and the Civic Democrats would come second, both with 12.5 percent of the vote, while the Social Democrats, the Communist Party and the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party would each get 7.5 percent.
TOP 09, the Christian Democrats and the Mayors and Independents would only just cross the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house.
MPs approve state budget for 2020 with CZK 40 bn deficit
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved the 2020 state budget, with a projected CZK 40 billion crown deficit.
The budget was passed by 108 votes in the 200-member lower house, winning approval from the governing coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats, as well as the Communist Party. The opposition MPs voted against the bill.
The budget forecasts state expenditures of CZK 1.618 billion and revenues of CZK 1.578 billion. After winning approval of the lower house, it will have to be signed into law by the president.
Czech Army to purchase 3D radars from Israel
The Czech Army will purchase eight 3D radars from Israel to the tune of 3.5 billion crowns. Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar signed an intergovernmental agreement on the deal with Israeli representatives on Thursday.
The radars will be delivered between 2020 and 2023. According to the defence minister they will significantly increase the country’s defence capacity. The radars from Israel will replace the military's outdated Russian technology.
August 21 to be Remembrance Day for victims of 1968 invasion
The Senate has approved a proposal for August 21st to be observed as a remembrance day for the victims of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The draft law was earlier approved by the lower house where it received broad support with the exception of the Communist Party where all but one MP abstained from the vote.
It will now be signed into law by the president.
Friday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.