Daily news summary


State to spend far less on hosting EU presidency in 2022 than last time

The Czech government is aiming to spend significantly less when it holds the European Union presidency in 2022 than when it last did so in 2009, iRozhlas.cz reported.

A draft state budget that ministries had until Monday to comment on envisages expenditures of CZK 1.2 billion on hosting the six-month presidency. That is around a third the outlay a decade ago and is considerably less than other countries typically spend.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says he is seeking to make savings in the areas of investment costs and personnel.

However, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs could find that it has insufficient staff to handle the demands of hosting a large number of meetings, iRozhlas said.

Report: Competition authority dealing with first case linked to Huawei bar

The Office for the Protection of Competition is investigating the first case relating to a bar on the use of Huawei products in the state infrastructure, the news site Neovlivní reported on Tuesday, citing a source close to the case. A spokesperson for the anti-trust authority said it would not comment.

At the start of this year the Ministry of Health banned the use of hardware, communications technology and software produced by Huawei and another Chinese firm, ZTE.

This followed a warning from the National Cyber and Security Information Agency. It said the companies represented a threat and should not have access to essential state infrastructure, including hospitals, transport and energy distribution.

Huawei then took a complaint against the Ministry of Health to the Office for the Protection of Competition over the company’s practical exclusion from a tender for an integrated system for regional hygiene centres.

Members call time on Realists after three years

Members of The Realists have decided to dissolve the right-wing political grouping, their candidate in last year’s presidential elections, Jiří Hynek, told the Czech News Agency. A group of founders last month recommended the voluntary breakup of the party.

The Realists were founded in 2016 by political scientist Petr Robejšek with the stated aim of defending national interests, security and the family.

The conservative party got just 0.7 percent of the vote in the last general elections, while Mr. Hynek received 1.23 percent in the first round of the 2018 presidential elections.

Intelligence services likely to acquire increased powers after Senate vote

The Czech intelligence services look set to acquire increased powers to handle records in information systems after the Senate’s Security Committee unanimously approved the change on Tuesday. The upper house is due to vote on the government security bill next week.

The legislation foresees the intelligence agencies being given greater scope to secure concealed identities in information systems and to acquire and process digital photographs and identifiers of individuals held in a number of information systems.

The agencies would also be allowed to create their own facial recognition system in order to better make use of information from the secret services of other states.

Interior Ministry announces fresh police cars tender

The Ministry of the Interior has announced a fresh tender process to buy over 4,000 cars for the police at a cost of around CZK 2 billion. A previous selection process was overturned by the Office for the Protection of Business Competition, which said that it favoured Škoda Auto. Ministry officials said that ruling was discriminatory.

Interior Minister Jan Jan Hamáček said on Tuesday that a second tender process for vehicles for rapid deployment patrols and the traffic police would soon be completed. It will be worth around CZK 500 million.

Romanian entrepreneurs up but Russians head list of foreign owners of Czech-based firms

The number of Romanian entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic has risen markedly in recent years, according to an analysis by consultants Bisnode. At present Romanian citizens control 1,584 companies in the Czech Republic, which is over 200 percent more than in 2014.

Romanians rank 15th when it comes to the foreign ownership of Czech-based companies. Russians head the list, followed by Slovaks, Ukrainians and Germans.

Herman appointed to Human Rights Council in Kroupa’s stead

Former arts minister Daniel Herman has been appointed to the Government Human Rights Council. His nomination by the human rights commissioner Helena Válková was approved by the cabinet on Monday, the news site Deník N. reported.

Mr. Herman, a Christian Democrat, replaces philosopher and ex-dissident Daniel Kroupa as a member of the Human Rights Council.

Mr. Kroupa stood down in protest at the appointment of Ms. Válková over the fact she has supported Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in the face of accusations of criminal wrongdoing.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be sunny in the Czech Republic, with daytime highs of up to 30 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are expected to remain at that level or higher until at least the middle of next week.