Daily news summary

Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to start free-travel zone Wednesday

From Wednesday it will be possible for Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians to travel freely between the three states without a negative Covid-19 test, provided they return to their country within 48 hours. The news was announced by Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, on Tuesday.

Mr. Petříček said he had also been in touch with his Austrian counterpart to discuss a similar relaxation on the Czech-Austrian frontier.

The new regime at the border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia was agreed between the two countries’ prime ministers, Andrej Babiš and Igor Matovič, on Monday.

Govt. taking Commission to court over withholding of subsidies for Agrofert

The Czech government is going to take a legal action against the European Commission over its blocking of subsidies of CZK 1.6 billion for a project by the company Agrofert. The money is being withheld after a Commission audit said that Agrofert’s founder, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, still controlled the firm so is in conflict of interest.

A representative said on Monday that the Czech government had decided in February to contest the decision in Brussels. It has since withdrawn that lawsuit and will replace it with a new one.

Vendor of condemned Third Reich calendar “only seeking profit”

The owner of a Czech online retailer selling 2021 calendars featuring “Personalities of the Third Reich” says Naše vojsko is not promoting Nazism and is only seeking profit, iRozhlas.cz reported on Tuesday. The Israeli and German ambassadors to the Czech Republic have criticised the sale of the product, which features pictures of Hitler and other senior Nazis.

The minster of the interior, Jan Hamáečk, says the sale of the calendar is tasteless and immoral. However, agencies in the criminal justice system have repeatedly reached the conclusion that it is not a criminal offence, he said.

Foreign ministry drops plans to buy building in Brussels

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dropped the idea of purchasing a building for the country’s permanent representation in Brussels, the news site Deník N. reported. It had planned to buy such a building in connection with the Czech Republic’s presidency of the EU in the second half of 2022.

The minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, said that the coronavirus crisis meant that savings would have to be made while a ministry spokesperson said the pandemic had delayed the necessary negotiations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now seeking to rent a building in the Belgian capital.

New Construction Code should reach lower house in September

New legislation on construction that should majorly impact building in the Czech Republic is set to go to the government’s legislative council on Thursday. The new Construction Code will then go before the Chamber of Deputies in September, the prime minister, Andrej Babiš, said on Tuesday.

The legislation should enter force in spring of next year and gradually take full effect by the middle of 2023.

The government says the new code will simplify and speed up planning permission processes, which it says are costing the economy billions of crowns ever year.

However, critics say it changed so much in the comment procedure that it will in fact make construction work more complicated.

Work begins on replica of destroyed 16th century wooden church

Work to build a replica of a valuable wooden church that burned down in the Guty district of Třinec in the Moravian Silesian Region began on Tuesday. It should be completed by next spring, with the first mass set to take place there on 23 May 2021.

The original 16th century church was burned down by three youths in 2017. They received jail terms of three and a half, eight and nine years respectively.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with temperatures of up to 18 degrees Celsius. Similar weather is predicted for the following days, though daytime highs are likely to fall slightly.