Daily news summary
Shake-up of Czech security services takes effect
In a shake-up at the top of Czech security agencies, the former head of the Security Information Service (BIS) Jiří Lang takes over as director of the National Security Agency (NBÚ). It’s previous head, Dušan Navrátil, will head a new agency tasked with responsibility for cyber security. It will eventually employ 400. The NBÚ’s main task will be security clearance for government staff and those in sensitive security positions. The Czech foreign ministry on Tuesday announced a security breach with the e-mails of senior diplomats hacked in a massive cyber attack.
Slovakia joins Danube-Oder-Elbe navigation project
Slovakia has joined the Czech Republic and Poland is preparations for whether a massive transport project linking the Danube, Oder, and Elbe rivers and making them navigable would be economically attractive and feasible. The so-called DOL project has strong support from Czech president Miloš Zeman but is opposed by environment groups which say it will be an ecological disaster. Slovakia was previously an observer on a working group dealing with preparations but will now take part fully after signing a memorandum at a meeting of transport ministers in Warsaw on Tuesday. No final decision on whether to proceed with the project has yet been taken.
Brno researchers map structure of viruses that threaten bee populations
Researchers at the Brno-based Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) say they have identified the structure of several viruses that affect bees and can now determine how the infection takes place. The worldwide breakthrough follows around two years of research at the unit of Masaryk University. The research gives some hope that a cure for some bee viruses could now be within reach. Bee populations across the world have plummeted in recent years with around 25 viruses that threaten them pinpointed by scientists.
Minister says Czech Republic failed to cash in on EU funds in 2016
The Czech Republic failed to effectively take advantage of opportunities to pump European funds last year, according to the Minister for Regional Development Karla Šlechtová. The minister described last year’s results as poor, adding that part of the problem was with fund management bodies and also the fact that firms and individuals preferred to turn to national funds rather than EU cash because the procedures were simpler. Last year agreements covering around 10 billion crowns were signed with 14.2 percent of the maximum total for the 2014-2020 of 648 billion crowns now claimed. This year, the minister said around five times more EU cash, or around 53 billion crowns, should be claimed.
TPCA hits five year record for car production
The Czech based car making joint venture TPCA last year produced just over 220,600 cars. That’s the highest total since 2011 and a 0.7 percent rise on the 2015 figure. The overwhelming majority of cars produced at the Kolín plant are for exports with the main destinations being Britain, Germany, Italy and France. Britain takes 29 percent of the production. TPCA is a joint venture between Toyota and Peugeot Citroen.
Industry minister ready to visit Tesla Motor’s US plant to boost Czech factory chances
Minister for Trade and Industry Jan Mládek says he hopes to visit the Tesla Motors electric car headquarters in the United States and possibly meet with founder Elon Musk to encourage him to site a plant in the Czech Republic. Mládek told the business daily Hospodářské Noviny that his trip to the US could take place in May and exploratory talks with Tesla were already underway. Czech chances of landing an electric car plant have reportedly been boosted by the possibility of exploiting large lithium deposits in the north of the country near the German border. Lithium is a key material for the batteries used in electric cars.
January was coldest on record since 2006
Weather forecasters have said that January was the coldest for the last 11 years with an average temperature for the month of minus 5 degrees Celsius. In 2006 the average fell to minus 6 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature during the month, minus 34.6 degrees Celsius, occurred at a 1,100 metre high site in the Šumava national park in Western Bohemia.
Snow complicates transport in some parts of country
Fresh snowfalls have complicated road transport in many parts of the Czech Republic. Officials in the Zlín Region in southern Moravia and the Central Bohemian Region have reported problems, with some sections of road barely passable. Snow showers have reduced visibility in some areas, road maintenance workers say. Trains are running with delays of up to 40 minutes in Kolín, Central Bohemia, which is an important rail hub.
Babiš promises audits but refuses to apologise to Czech Television
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš says he has commissioned two independent audits of his revenues and will make the results public. Speaking on Czech Television on Tuesday night, the ANO chief and billionaire also refused to apologise for calling journalists from an investigative show on the station corrupt. Mr. Babiš said all those who had criticised him should also have their incomes audited. Attention has been focused on how Mr. Babiš raised the funds to purchase bonds in his company Agrofert in 2013. He says he will file complaints against Czech Television over what he calls its manipulated reporting of his business affairs.
The weather on Thursday will be cloudy with rain or snow showers likely, especially in the north of the country. Top daytime temperatures will range between zero and one degree Celsius.