Daily news summary

PM: EU states should set their own spending priorities

Attending an informal EU summit on financing post-Brexit on Friday, Czech Prime Andrej Babiš said his country wanted to be able to decide where to channel the money it was granted from EU cohesion funds.

Mr. Babiš said that while it was understandable that certain conditions would have to be met, individual states themselves should be allowed to decide on their given priorities, particularly since the money available would be significantly reduced in the coming years and the difference between contributions and subsidies would diminish.

As regards the method of selecting a new Commission president, Mr. Babiš said a new head of the European Commission should be chosen by national presidents and prime ministers and not be dictated by who wins European Parliament elections. The current system in place means that the lead party candidate from European Parliament elections are effectively shoehorned into the job. That was the case with current incumbent Jean-Claude Juncker with national governments largely left to rubber stamp a fait accompli.

Czech Republic to contribute four million euros to Fund For Africa

EU representatives, members of the African Union and UN officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss the possibility of increasing aid to the Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger ) in order to help stem the migrant crisis, fight terrorism and people smuggling.

The EU wants to raise 500 million euros for this purpose of which 414 million has already been pledged.

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš said that the Czech Republic would contribute 4 million euros into the Fund for Africa this year.

The EU has two security missions in the region – one in Niger and two in Mali, in which Czech troops are involved.

Prague ham on EU traditional specialties list

The European Commission has added Prague ham to the EU list of “traditional specialities guaranteed”. This was confirmed by the Czech Agriculture Ministry on Friday.

The request for Prague ham to be given this status was lodged six years ago. Four other Czech meat products – traditional salamis and sausages (Lovecký salám, Liptovský salám, Špekáčky and Spišské párky) are already on the list.

PM backs decision to dismiss head of Czech Postal Service

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has backed the interior minister ‘s decision to sack the head of the Czech Postal Service, Martin Elkan. The prime minister said that Mr. Elkan lacked vision and under his management Czech Post lacked transparency and was in a state of disarray. He said there would be an open competition for the post.

Interior Minister Lubomír Metnar announced his decision to sack the head of the Czech Postal Service on Thursday, citing poor management.

Fire rages at cooling plant in Mochov

More than twenty fire brigades are battling a fire at a cooling plant in Mochov, east of Prague,which broke out early on Friday.

Fire crews are reportedly having problems getting water to the site and a top level fire alert is in place which is only called in critical situations.

Chemical experts have been called in to ascertain the degree of pollution in the vicinity. No one has been reported hurt in the operation which is expected to last all day.

Czech hockey team defeated by Russia in semi-final game

The Czech Republic’s hopes of playing for the gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics were dashed by the team’s 0:3 loss to Russia in the first of the men’s semi-final games on Friday.

Nikita Gusev and Vladislav Gavrikov netted goals in quick succession in the second period, while Ilya Kovalchuk slotted into an empty net late in the game.

The Czechs will now face either Canada or Germany for the bronze.

Weather forecast

The weekend should bring clear to partly cloudy skies and very cold weather with daytime temperatures between 1 and -3 degrees and night time lows between minus 9 and – 14 degrees Celsius. The cold spell is expected to last until the end of February.