Daily news summary


Babiš, Petříček to represent Czechia at UN General Assembly

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) will represent the Czech Republic at the upcoming UN General Assembly session.

The UN General Assembly session opens on 17 September with the first day of the high-level General Debate set for 24 September.

Mr Babiš is due to deliver a speech to the body sometime between 24-30 September and take part in multilateral delegation head-level events, including a possible meeting with UN Secretary General António Guterres.

Apart from attending UN events, including a Climate Summit and a Sustainable Development forum, both Mr Babiš and Mr Petříček will travel outside of New York City.

Mr Babiš is set visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), meet representatives of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and tour General Electric's R&D centre in Schenectady, New York.

Foreign Minister Petříček will attend meetings of foreign ministers from EU and NATO member countries in New York but also travel to Washington, D.C, for a conference of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), and to Miami, for a conference on democratic alternatives for Cuba.

Finance Ministry proposing digital tax for large Internet companies

The Finance Ministry has sent the government a proposal to introduce a 7% digital tax for large Internet companies such as Facebook and Google as of mid-2020. According to the ministry the tax could bring approximately five billion crowns to state coffers annually.

The proposed tax would concern internet companies with a global turnover of over € 750 million (CZK 19.1 billion), and an annual turnover of at least CZK 50 million for taxable services in the Czech Republic. Some digital economy platforms, such as Airbnb and Uber, would also be taxable.

The ministry’s proposal is based on a draft prepared by the European Commission, which however failed to win approval in the European Parliament.

State Environmental Fund deputy head forced to leave office after leaking news of suspended Agrofert subsidies to press

The deputy head of the State Environmental Fund Leo Steiner, who suspended state subsidies to a company in the Agrofert conglomerate due to a possible conflict of interest on the part of the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, has left his post, the news site Seznam.cz reported on Thursday.

Steiner himself confirmed that he had left at the end of August, saying that his superior wanted to start disciplinary proceedings against him for giving the media information about the suspension of the subsidies. Steiner said he had broken the internal regulation intentionally.

ČT: Beijing cancels another Prague music ensemble tour over “One-China” row

China has cancelled the scheduled tour of another Czech music ensemble, most likely due to an ongoing feud with Prague’s mayor, Czech Television (ČT) reports.

Mayor Zdenek Hřib (Pirate Party), a vocal supporter of Taiwan and Tibet, has pushed for the removal of a clause in a Prague-Beijing cooperation agreement requiring the Czech capital to respect the “one-China policy”.

In response, Beijing in July ‘indefinitely postponed’ an autumn tour of China by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Now, China has done the same with the chamber music ensemble Guarneri Trio Prague, led by Ivan Klánský, the dean of the Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU).

Prague hosting AAE conference on missing children

Twenty children, on average, are reported missing in the Czech Republic every day and most are found within minutes or hours, according to police statistics presented at the start of conference on missing children organized by the non-profit organization Amber Alert Europe (AAE).

The organization created a network of police specialists involved in the search for missing children across Europe and regularly holds conferences where the main aim is for the respective police officers to establish contacts that they can later use to communicate more quickly, efficiently and informally in the search for missing children.Across Europe a child is reported missing every two minutes.

Prague is hosting the conference for the second time.It is attended by 40 specialists from 16 countries.

AAE founder and chairman Frank Hoen said in his opening address that the Czech police are among the best in Europe when it comes to searching for missing children.

Czechs’ trust in EU institutions slowly growing

Czechs' trust in the EU and the European Parliament has seen a slow but steady growth since 2016 when it was at its lowest since the country’s admission to the EU in 2004, the STEM polling agency reported on Thursday.

According to the results of a June poll, trust in the EU in June was at 41 percent, up by 2 percent compared to the same month last year, and that in the European Parliament was up by 4 percent, reaching 34 percent.

Trust in EU institutions was at its highest at the start of the Czech EU presidency in 2009, when the EU was trusted by 60 percent and the EP by 51 percent of Czechs.

However it slid to a record low in 2016 declining to 29 and 24 percent, respectively, a phenomenon that was attributed, at least in part, to the migrant crisis.

STEM analysts say Czechs have been gradually feeling a stronger identity with Europe in the past few years. According to the latest poll some 71 percent of Czechs feel they are “Europeans”.

Weather forecast

Friday should be cloudy to overcast with day temperatures ranging between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.