Czech news in brief for June 1: Cold front moving in for weekend, forest-fire alert remains active

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, June 1, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 01.06.2023 06:55:00 (updated on 01.06.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

Finance CNB relaxes mortgage rules

The Czech National Bank (ČNB) has decided to relax the rules for providing mortgages. From July, it will no longer be necessary for applicants to apply the debt repayment limit to the net monthly income (DSTI). The other rules for mortgages were left in force by the bank board.

The ratio of the amount of the mortgage loan to the value of the mortgaged property will continue to be 80 percent, and for applicants under 36 years of age 90 percent.

Weather Outdoor fire ban extends to more regions

Due to the drought, meteorologists have extended the area where the fire danger warning applies until further notice. The fire warning now applies the entire Pilsen, Karlovy Vary, Ústí nad Labem, Central Bohemia, and Prague regions, as well as most regions of the Liberec, Pardubice, and Hradec Králové and the north of the South Bohemia region, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) announced.

People should avoid any activities that could be the cause of the fire in the regions where the warning is valid. In the wild, they should not make fires, burn grass, throw cigarette butts, or use portable stoves, and other sources of open fire. At the same time, they should comply with local ordinances and prohibitions that may be issued in cases of drought and the risk of fire.

EUROPE Czech PM attends European Political Community summit

Prime Minister Petr Fiala is attending the second summit of the European Political Community (EPC) in Chisinau, Moldova. Prague held the previous EPC summit in 2022. Topics will include not only Russian aggression in Ukraine, but also current tensions in Kosovo, Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, and European energy.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy are also in attendance.

JOBS Czech unemployment joint-lowest in EU

Czechia continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the whole EU following the release of Eurostat data. The Czech joblessness rate was at 2.7 percent in March, in contrast with the EU average of 6 percent. Czechia shares its low-unemployment accolade with Poland, which also recorded a 2.7 percent rate.

Numbers of those not in work, training, or education increased marginally month on month, by 0.1 percentage points. According to the Czech Statistical Office – using slightly different methodology to Eurostat – there are around 250,000 unemployed peopled in Czechia.

foreign affairs NATO ministers to meet in Prague next year

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has announced on Twitter today that an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers will take place in Prague in spring 2024. Lipavský extended the invitation during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. 

This event will be the most significant NATO gathering in Czechia since a 2002 summit in the country. NATO foreign ministers are currently meeting in Norway, where the defense of Ukraine is the central topic.

weather Temperatures set to decline slightly this weekend

A slightly cool front will pass through Czechia this weekend, which will see average daytime temperatures decline by a few degrees Celsius according to the forecasts of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ). The current average temperature in Czechia is around 25 degrees, but this will drop to about 10 degrees early Saturday morning in the capital, before rising up to around 20 degrees Celsius. Sunday will see slightly warmer temperatures; no rain is expected in the capital.

Due to the country’s ongoing drought, the ČHMÚ has issued a fire warning for Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, and Central Bohemia. A fire in a forest Wednesday evening on the border of the Central Bohemia and Liberec regions underlines the risks posed.

Society Czech MPs will continue debate on marriage equality today

Today in Prague, Members of Parliament (MPs) are expected to continue the debate on legalizing same-sex marriage, which was left unfinished on Wednesday. The discussion also includes a draft amendment proposed by another group of legislators, aiming to constitutionally protect marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The debate so far has seen supporters of same-sex marriage legalization as the main speakers.

The proposed amendment to the Civil Code would grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, effectively replacing registered partnerships. The proponents argue that protecting the current definition of marriage is necessary to safeguard against attempts to question or redefine it.

Senate Senate approves Pavel's picks for constitutional judges

The Senate has approved the nominations of former Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) Josef Baxa, constitutional law professor Jan Wintr, and former President of the Judicial Union Daniela Zemanová as new constitutional judges. They will be appointed by President Petr Pavel on Monday afternoon.

President Pavel Rychetský, Chairman of the Constitutional Court, and Prime Minister Petr Fiala welcomed the Senate's decision. The new judges will fill the positions left by the expiration of the terms of Jaroslav Fenyk, Jan Filip, and Milada Tomková. There is speculation that Baxa could become the next Chairman of the Constitutional Court.

real estate Czech National Bank to address mortgage regulation today

The Banking Council of the Czech National Bank (ČNB) is set to discuss mortgage regulations and determine the rate of the countercyclical capital reserve today. The reserve, which currently stands at 2.5 percent, aims to safeguard the credit market and prevent potential financial institution issues from impacting the economy.

Last year, the CNB tightened mortgage provisions, with rules taking effect in April. These include an 80 percent loan-to-value ratio, an 8.5 limit on total debt relative to net annual income, and a 45 percent ratio of monthly debt repayments to net monthly income. Exceptions apply for applicants under 36 years of age. The countercyclical capital reserve applies to all banks, savings and credit unions, and securities dealers.

EU Strasbourg court rules on Czechia's human rights violations

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found violations of the Convention on Human Rights in four cases against the Czech Republic, according to a report submitted by government commissioner Petr Konupka. The cases involved the use of force by police, compensation for expropriation, and the legality of extradition detention. The ECHR ruled on 29 complaints against the Czech Republic last year, a significant increase compared to previous years.

The report also highlighted ongoing cases awaiting a decision from the ECHR, including issues related to Roma pupils' access to education, gender recognition, corporal punishment of children, and gender pay equality. The implementation of ECHR verdicts will require increased attention and efforts from responsible authorities in the Czech Republic.

Culture Zlín Film Festival for Children begins today

The 63rd International Film Festival for Children and Youth commences today in Zlín, running until June 7. With a showcase of 295 films from 50 countries, the Zlín Film Festival holds the distinction of being the oldest and largest event of its kind globally.

The opening ceremony features the world premiere of the animated feature film "Tonda, Slávek and the Magical Light" directed by Filip Pošivač, while the Canadian film "Billie Blue" will also have its world premiere for adult audiences. The festival includes various events, such as a focus on animated films, the Zlín Walk of Fame, and a special section for professionals.

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