Daily news summary
PM Babiš, foreign minister Stropnický meet Brexit minister Davis
Outgoing prime minister Andrej Babiš and foreign minister Martin Stropnický held talks with the UK’s Brexit minister David Davis in Prague on Wednesday.
Among the topics on their agenda was settling relations with the EU after Britain’s departure from the EU. The ministers also discussed what the future relationship of the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic will look like after Britain has left the EU.
EU leaders are set to hold Brexit negotiations at the EU summit in Brussels next week.
Government rejects proposal to soften anti-smoking bill
The outgoing government on Wednesday rejected a proposal to relax a ban on smoking at Czech pubs, restaurants and some other facilities, which was introduced last year. The amendment was proposed by Civic Democratic deputy Marek Benda and envisaged creating separate smoking areas in pubs with their own ventilation. Under the proposal, bars with an area of 80 square meters or smaller could decide themselves whether to allow smoking or not.
Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said after the government meeting that it was too early to assess the effects of the anti-smoking bill, which has been in force since May last year. The proposal will now be debated in the lower house.
Cabinet approves proposed amendment to civil law
The outgoing government approved a proposed amendment to the civil service law at its session on Wednesday. Under the proposal, the civil service should open up to experts from the outside.
The amendment to the civil service law also introduces a new assessment system that would make it easier to remove top officials from their posts.
The government will now ask the European Commission to take an official stand on the proposed changes, acting prime minister Andrej Babiš said after the meeting.
Over 100 pubs fined since introduction of smoking ban
Over 100 Czech pubs and restaurants have been found guilty of contravening a smoking ban that was brought in at the end of May, iDnes.cz reported on Wednesday. Fines totalling CZK 243,000 have been levied.
The highest number of cases has been recorded in Central Bohemia, but the highest amount in sanctions has been imposed in the Ústí nad Labem region, where there pubs have been fined CZK 120,000.
Officials in Ústí nad Labem receive an average of two to three reports of illicit smoking from the public every day. Such reports are the most common manner that breaches are uncovered.
Czech employees lag behind in use of IT technologies
Czech use of IT technologies at work is 20 percent lower than in other European countries, a survey carried out by Microsoft in 20 EU member states suggests.
Czech employees don’t use notebooks, the intranet or online planning applications as much as their foreign colleagues. According to the survey, Czech employees don’t receive sufficient technical support and training.
Ledecká finishes 11th in season’s last World Cup downhill
The Czech Republic’s Ester Ledecká finished eleventh in the last World Cup downhill event of the season, which took place in Sweden’s Are on Wednesday. She trailed by 0.77 seconds on the winner, Lindsey Vonn of the US.
Ledecká, who is the only woman in history to win gold at a Winter Olympics in two unrelated events, will appear in the super-G competition on Thursday.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with daytime highs ranging between 7 and 11 degrees Celsius.