Czech news in brief for February 29: Thursday's top headlines

Gay couples gain partnership, limited adoption, Czech media group joins lawsuit against Google, Innogy to decreased fixed electricity, gas rates, and more. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 29.02.2024 07:28:00 (updated on 29.02.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

drugs HHC to be penalized the same as cannabis

National drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil announced this afternoon that the police will now penalize the possession of the psychoactive drug hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) and two other similar substances in the same way as they do for cannabis. Vobořil stated that the ban would be implemented after being written into law, and he has also requested the Presidential Office to consider granting pardons to habitual users of these substances.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE War Fiala: No EU country will send troops to Ukraine

During a Chamber of Deputies meeting, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated that no European country would send troops to Ukraine, as it was a minimal topic at a Paris summit on aid to the country. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of a potential nuclear conflict if NATO countries intervened, while French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the idea of sending soldiers to assist with training. However, Fiala emphasized that the overwhelming consensus was against this idea, and it would not be further discussed.

ECONOMY Czech national debt hits record high

According to the Ministry of Finance, the Czech Republic's national debt reached a record high of CZK 3.1 trillion last year, increasing by CZK 216.1 billion. This translates to each Czech citizen owing CZK 285,870, with the debt ratio decreasing to 42.3 percent of GDP. The increase in debt was primarily due to the issuance of new state bonds to cover the budget deficit and refinance maturing bonds. The state's gross borrowing need decreased by CZK 126.5 billion compared to the previous year.

WEATHER Meteorological spring to bring warm temps

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute predicts that the official beginning of meteorological spring on Friday will bring higher-than-average temperatures across the Czech Republic, with a warm southerly flow. This could break the national temperature record set for March 1 – the center of Prague saw 16.1 degrees Celsius in 1922. Maximum daytime temperatures in Prague are set to peak at around 12 degrees Celsius Friday.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS Czech company takes legal action against Meta

Czech consumer magazine dTest is among eight European organizations that are filing complaints against U.S. company Meta Platforms for violating EU privacy regulations. They are concerned about the company's data collection methods, particularly the subscription system on Facebook and Instagram. The European Consumer Organization reported that the complaints were sent to data protection authorities in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Slovenia, and Spain.

economy Real household incomes fall in 2023

The Czech Statistical Office reported today that the average household income in Czechia increased by 7.7 percent in 2023, reaching CZK 259,900 per person. However, due to high inflation, real incomes fell by 6.5 percent. Last year, there was an increase in the number of people who couldn't afford to buy five out of 13 basic items, with 6.3 percent of the population facing material shortages. 

equality Gay couples gain partnership, limited adoption

The Czech Chamber of Deputies approved an amendment granting same-sex couples partnership rights akin to marriage, barring child adoption unless one partner is a biological parent. Originally aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage, the bill now heads to the Senate. It passed with 123 votes in favor, 36 against, and will take effect pending Senate approval.

Dipolmacy Macron to discuss defense, energy in Prague

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to visit Prague next week to discuss nuclear energy, defense, and support for Ukraine. Macron and Prime Minister Petr Fiala will sign a strategic cooperation action plan for 2024-2028, including energy and transport. Macron seeks to bolster aid to Ukraine amid Russian aggression. Czech discussions may include artillery ammunition procurement for Ukraine.

Tech Czech media group joins lawsuit against Google

The Czech Prima Group and 31 European media firms sue Google for EUR 2.1 billion, alleging damages from its digital advertising practices. The lawsuit, filed in the Netherlands, claims Google's dominance led to revenue losses. Google refutes the claims, stating it collaborates with publishers and will vigorously defend against the lawsuit. Antitrust scrutiny on Google's ad tech business continues to intensify amid publisher complaints.

Culture CNB unveils Smetana 200th anniversary coin

The Czech National Bank (CNB) unveiled a commemorative silver coin worth CZK 200 crowns in Litomyšl Wednesday to honor composer Bedřich Smetana's 200th birth anniversary on March 2. Designed by Jiri Hanuš, the coin features Smetana's portrait and "My Country" inscription, with a total mintage of 21,500 pieces.

Politics Opposition fails to convene EU migration meeting

The opposition failed to convene an extraordinary House of Representatives meeting on the EU migration pact. The coalition majority blocked the meeting, resulting in a standoff. The Czech Interior Minister emphasized finding common ground, while the opposition called for further action. Debate continues over the pact's implications and the government's stance.

Economy Innogy to decreased fixed electricity, gas rates

Innogy, a Czech energy company, will decrease fixed electricity and gas rates from March. Electricity prices will drop by CZK 600 per megawatt hour (MWh), gas by CZK 200 per MWh. Other suppliers are also reducing prices in response to declining wholesale energy costs. Since mid-February, ČEZ has discounted its fixed products by several hundred crowns per MWh on average. From March, gas will also be cheaper by an average of 6.1 percent at Pražská plynárenská.

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