Daily news summary


European Commission asks Czech Republic to explain failure to return more illegal migrants home

The European Commission has asked the Czech Republic to explain why it is failing to expel illegal migrants, public broadcaster Czech Radio reported on Tuesday – referring to a letter the commission sent to the Czech Interior Ministry earlier this month. The Czech Republic has returned only 13 percent of illegal migrants, compared with the EU´s average of 39 percent, the commission wrote. It asked the Interior Ministry to submit a list of measures to improve the situation, adding it considered the returning of illegal migrants crucial for reducing overall numbers. According to Eurostat figures cited by the commission, the Czech Republic ordered 2,460 people to leave Czech territory last year, but in fact it expelled only 320. The Interior Ministry says a large part of those who stay illegally in the Czech Republic are people with expired residence permits.

Czech Republic returns illegal migrants to country they came from, says Chovanec

Reacting to criticism from the European Commission, the Czech minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said the country had this year detained 7,000 illegal migrants, of whom 460 were at present in detention centres. All others have been returned to the nearest state that they came from, he said. The European Commission recently sent a letter to the Czech Interior Ministry, asking officials to account for the fact that the country was only returning 13 percent of illegal migrants, lower than the EU average of 39. Mr. Chovanec told a conference in Prague that Europe needed to resolve the migration crisis in a democratic, humane, legal way that was in the interest of individual states.

Bill forcing large stores to close on holidays approved in first reading

The lower house of the Parliament has approved in the first reading a Senate bill that would force large shops in the Czech Republic to close on certain state holidays. The amendment will now be considered by the economic and social committees of the Chamber of Deputies. Retailers with floor areas of 200 square metres or more would not be allowed to do business on New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, May 8, September 28, October 28, after noon on December 24 and on December 25 and 26. Trade unions have been pushing for the move for several years. Opponents say it discriminates against large stores and could cost jobs.

Easing requirements for Ukrainians would help solve skilled worker shortage, says PM

A shortage of qualified workers could put a brake on the current marked expansion of the Czech economy, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in Prague on Tuesday. Mr. Sobotka said the country needed to fix its overstretched system for granting visas to Ukrainians, adding that the government was planning a project making it easier for employers to hire such workers. Other factors that could curtail growth are the Czech Republic’s level of digitalisation and infrastructure, the prime minister told the conference Czech Republic: The Shape We’re In, organised by Forbes and the Aspen Institute.

Complaints after head of communist-era border service gets military honours at funeral

Complaints have been made after military honours were rendered at the funeral of a general who commanded Czechoslovakia’s border service during the communist era, iDnes.cz reported. Four Czech Army soldiers provided an honour guard at the recent funeral of General František Šádek in Prague. However, Miroslav Lehký from the Platform of European Memory and Conscience said the officer had not deserved such honours as he had served in the repressive forces of a state that claimed hundreds of victims, while he himself had agreed with the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. A representative of the Ministry of Defence said General Šádek had fulfilled the requirements for such a funeral.

Zeman: Restrictions will eventually be lifted on second North Bohemian mine

Restrictions will also be lifted on a second lignite mine in North Bohemia in the future, says the Czech president, Miloš Zeman. Communicating through his spokesman on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman said he welcomed the cabinet’s decision to remove limits at the Bílina pit in the Ústí nad Labem region and that he shared the view of the local government and unions that the same move will be made in connection with the nearby ČSA mine sooner or later. Critics say lifting mining restrictions will harm the environment and the health of locals; proponents say it will deliver jobs in a region with relatively high unemployment.

Mayors and Independents not to run with TOP 09 in regional elections, says leader

The Mayors and Independents group will not contest regional elections in autumn next year on the same ticket as the TOP 09 party, the former’s leader Petr Gazdík said at a news conference on Tuesday. Mr. Gazdík said the Mayors and Independents were aiming to win alone in a number of regions. However, they will cooperate with TOP 09 in Senate elections due to be held at the same time. The two groupings have a deal to work together at parliamentary level until 2017. The Mayors and Independents have two senators and four MEPs.

Czech car production up 4 percent in first three quarters

Car production in the first three quarters of 2015 was 4 percent higher than in the same period last year, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Automotive Industry Association. Just over 970,000 cars rolled of assembly lines in the Czech Republic between the start of January and the end of September. Industry figures expect last year’s record output of 1.24 million cars to be bettered in 2015.

Suspected burglar arrested after leaving ear print on flat doors

Police in Prague have apprehended a burglar after finding a print of his ear on the door of flats he is believed to have robbed. In a statement on the police’s website, spokesman Jan Daněk said the man, who is 30, was wanted in connection with at least 10 burglaries in Prague 2 and Prague 5 this year. He left his ear print on the doors of apartments as he listened to ascertain whether the owners were at home, Mr. Daněk wrote.