Daily news summary
Constitutional Court demands changes to electronic register law
The Czech Constitutional Court has cancelled some parts of the flagship measure of Andrej Babiš when he served as finance minister, electronic cash registers better known by their Czech acronym EET.
The move was introduced to clamp down on cash payments and tax dodging. The court did not agree with the request of right-wing lawmakers to cancel the measure as a whole. The court ruled that some aspects of the measure, such as those affecting non cash payments and Internet transactions should not apply. It also questioned why personal identification numbers had to appear on the slips given to buyers.
And the ruling is also a setback for the planned third and fourth phase widening of the measure next year, for example to farmers, workers in the transport sector, and artisans.
Changes to the law have been ordered before those phases can take effect. Babiš, now prime minister in a minority ANO government, said that what mattered was that the payments law still stood.
Parties fill commission to investigate OKD sale
Czech political parties have appointed the lawmakers who will lead an investigation into the privatisation of the hard coal mining company OKD.
The commission of inquiry was agreed Tuesday and should deliver a full report within 10 months. The chairman of the commission still has to be named. The privatisation in 2004, when a key role was taken by the then finance minister and former Czech Social Democrat prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, has long been a subject of controversy.
Critics say the sale price for part of the mining company grossly underestimated its overall assets, including for example the firms vast portfolio of flats and real estate around the eastern city of Ostrava.
BMW starts construction of new vehicle test centre in West Bohemia
German automobile giant BMW has started construction of a test centre for electric and self-drive cars near Sokolov in the Karlovy Vary region, company representatives announced on Friday.
The site, bought from a local coal mining company, was chosen after BMW surveyed around 80 potential locations around Europe.
BMW’s current test centres near its company headquarters in Munich, Germany, and in France and Sweden are already operating at near capacity, according to the manufacturer. BMW plans to roll out its first self drive car in 2021.
Prague region is sixth most developed in Europe: statistical office
The Prague region is the sixth most developed in the European Union, even outstripping the French capital and its surroundings, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Friday.
The office released its findings after drawing on per capita Gross Domestic Product figures from 2015. Ahead of Prague were the Luxembourg, Hamburg, Brussels, Bratislava, and London regions, according to the analysis.
Trailing Prague were also Stockholm and Vienna. The office added that Prague last year had 182 percent of average EU wealth. The whole of the Czech Republic averaged at 88 percent of the EU level.
Traffic chaos hits Liberec after snowfall
Heavy snowfall with around 10 centimetres of fresh snow has complicated transport in the northern region of Liberec.
Traffic is congested in many places and police have warned drivers not to go on the roads unless completely necessary after being called out to several dozen accidents early on Friday.
The snow is expected to ease during the day as temperatures climb above zero.
Candidates in presidential race draw numbers in traditional lottery
The nine candidates running in the 2018 presidential elections drew numbers in a traditional election lottery held by the state electoral committee.
The former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences Jiří Drahoš, who is considered the most serious rival to incumbent president Miloš Zeman will run under number 9. President Zeman, who is making a bid for a second term in office, received number 7. Entrepreneur and lyricist Michal Horáček who is also one of the hot favourites in the race drew number 2. Candidates can use the numbers in their election campaigns.
The first round of voting in the presidential elections is scheduled for January 12-13. If none of the candidates in the running manage to win majority support, a second round will take place on 26-27 January.
PM Babiš defends Czech stand on migrants in Brussels
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is representing the Czech Republic at a two-day EU summit in Brussels, on Thursday reaffirmed the country’s negative stance to mandatory migrant quotas, highlighting its strong engagement in helping to resolve the situation in the countries of migrant origin.
On the first day of the summit the Czech prime minister met with EC President Jean Claude Junker and the head of the European Council Donald Tusk, whom he praised for having said “what everybody thinks” about migrant quotas, that they are divisive and ineffective.
The Visegrad Four announced at the summit that they would contribute 35 million euros to strengthen Libya’s borders and alleviate the plight of migrants in the country, but countries such as Germany or the Netherlands say that will not make up for these countries unwillingness to take in migrants.
After a day of heated debate the migrant issue remains unresolved and EU member states will go back to the negotiating table in the New Year.
Czech Pavel Kadeřábek sought by Leicester: reports
In football, Czech international defender Pavel Kadeřábek is reported to be hot property ahead of the looming transfer window.
English Premier League club Leicester is reported in the media to have joined the race to acquire Kadeřábek, currently playing in the BundesLiga for Hoffenheim.
Italian club Juventus had already been reported as bidding for the 25-year-old player. Kadeřábek signed a new contract with the German club in the summer taking him to 2021 with an escape clause reportedly seeing much higher payment than that being offered by the suitor clubs.
The weather on Saturday should be cloudy with sunny intervals.
Snow can be expected in the west of the country. Top daytime temperatures will range between one and four degrees Celsius.