News in brief for May 23: Czech government protests against new 'Euro 7' emissions rules

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Monday, May 23, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 23.05.2023 07:49:00 (updated on 23.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

international affairs UK's Prince Edward arrives in Prague this afternoon

Britain's Prince Edward arrived this afternoon for a visit to the Czech Republic, having come to the British Embassy in Prague by car from Germany at around 4 p.m. He was greeted by UK Ambassador Matt Field.

The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award (DofE) for students aged between 14 and 24 years will be the focus of his visit, but he will also see the village of Vestec near the capital (where he will plant a tree in honor of his father Phillip, pay his respects at the National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror in Prague, and meet with President Petr Pavel. He will stay in the Czech Republic until Thursday.

sport Czechia faces Switzerland in Ice Hockey World Championship

The Czech men’s ice hockey team is facing off against Canada in the 2023 Ice Hockey World Championship – Canada took an early lead in the first period, but Czechia equalized in the second. 

Czechia is currently ranked second in its eight-country group stage, trailing only Switzerland. Canada is third. The winner of the Czechia-Canada match will play Finland in the quarter-finals, due to take place on May 25. Slovakia will qualify for the quarterfinals if Latvia loses against Switzerland this afternoon.

currency Czech crown grows against euro, US dollar

The Czech crown has strengthened against both the euro and U.S. dollar this week, reaching EUR 1: CZK 23.69 at the time of writing – it stood at CZK 23.77 on Friday. 

Similar is true of the Czech crown’s value against the US dollar (although the appreciation is not as pronounced) – it currently stands at about USD 1: CZK 21.95, having been over CZK 22 last Friday. The crown was helped by statements of officials from the board of the Czech National Bank, who indicated that interest rates would not be lowered in the near term.

ENERGY Czechia signs European oil pipeline agreement

Czech state energy company Mero has concluded an agreement with the consortium of the Transalpine Pipeline (TAL), which will see oil supplies from Italy cover Czechia’s needs from 2025. Worth CZK 1.6 billion, the project will increase the capacity of the oil pipeline by 4 million tons of oil per year from 2025.

"With this fundamental step, we will get rid of our dependence on Russian oil,” announced Prime Minister Petr Fiala this afternoon. In 2022, 7.4 million tons of oil flowed into Czechia refineries, of which 56 percent came from Russia. Another part of oil supplies to the Czech Republic is provided by the IKL pipeline from Germany, which connects to the TAL pipeline. 

NETWORKS Vodafone outage hits Czech customers nationwide

Vodafone users across Czechia have experienced internet connection outages this since morning, caused by errors in Vodafone’s DNS server. Problems have been reported by users in Prague, Brno, Pilsen, and Ostrava.

"We have found the bug and are restoring services,” wrote the company on Facebook. If connected via broadband, Vodafone recommends restarting the modem and router. A similar issue occurred at the end of April.

politics Opposition ANO party is most popular in new opinion poll

The opposition ANO party would have gained a sizable proportion of the vote in a hypothetical April general election. A poll by the Median agency found that ANO would get 31 percent of the vote – over 15 percentage points more than the largest party in the current coalition, the Civic Democrats. 

The Pirate Party – also in government presently – is currently the third-most popular, polling at almost 11 percent. Median’s data shows that almost half of all people over the age of 65 would vote for ANO.

energy Czech billionaire acquires Dutch gas power plant

Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský who has a majority stake in the EPH energy company has today finished acquiring the MaasStroom gas power plant in Rotterdam. EPH has also purchased a 50 percent stake in Dutch energy supplier Enecogen. 

EPH now owns a total of four gas-fired power plants in the Netherlands, with a combined capacity of 2.6 gigawatts, positioning itself as the third-largest power plant operator in the country. The MaasStroom plant has a capacity of 426 megawatts (MW), while the second Rotterdam plant, located in Europoort, has a 910 MW capacity.

weather Southeast Czechia prepares for strong storms

“Very strong storms” are likely to hit the southeast of Czechia today according to iDnes, basing its forecast on data from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. 

Strong thunderstorms are expected to come to the east of the Czech Republic from midday, with potential floods occurring from around 3 p.m. A nationwide weather warning has been issued and is in place until 8 p.m. So far, no severe damage has been reported. Prague will be dry this afternoon.

environment Czechia protests against Euro 7 environment standards

Czechia, along with seven other EU countries, has sent a joint document outlining grievances with the upcoming Euro 7 emission standard, which will introduce emission limits for all motor vehicles and set a maximum level of various exhaust emissions that a car can produce before it is “type approved” and can go on sale.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala believes that the Euro 7 standard, due to partly come into force in 2025, is “not realistic.” Czechia also disagrees with the upcoming measurement of emissions from brakes and tires.

POLITICS Czech govt. to address Istanbul Convention by early June

The Czech Justice Ministry has submitted the Istanbul Convention, aimed at preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, to the government for discussion. The government plans to address the issue in late May or early June. Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated that the convention would not require significant changes to the Czech legal system.

President Petr Pavel has expressed support for ratifying the convention and is prepared to sign it if approved by parliament. The convention has faced controversy and opposition from conservatives and religious institutions, while proponents argue it will bolster support for victims and symbolize intolerance towards violence.

TECH Google launches Flood Hub platform for Czechia

Google has introduced its Flood Hub platform for flood forecasting in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to provide warnings of floods up to seven days in advance. The platform uses AI to process publicly available data sources like weather forecasts and satellite images, combining a hydrological model and an inundation model to predict water flow and affected areas.

Flood Hub monitors 17 locations in the Czech Republic within Google Maps, offering information on water conditions and a seven-day forecast. Google previously launched flood forecasting in India and expanded the service to more countries, utilizing AI and machine learning advancements.

POLICE BMW driver clocks 222 km/h on Czech highway

A BMW driver was caught by police for exceeding the speed limit by almost 100 kilometers per hour on the Vysočin highway D1 in the Czech Republic. The driver, in a BMW M4, was traveling at a speed of 222 km/h, well above the maximum speed limit of 130 km/h.

The police officers stopped the driver, a 33-year-old man, and conducted a breath test for alcohol, which was negative. Authorities emphasized that driving at such high speeds poses significant risks due to changes in vehicle handling and reaction time, making it difficult to respond to obstacles or emergencies.

watchdog Czechia failing to protect kids from online predators

Government Human Rights Commissioner Šimáčková Laurenčíková expressed concern that Czech society is failing to protect children online from sexual violence. She emphasized the need for a combination of technical solutions and effective prevention, proposing the inclusion of online safety education in the curriculum at all levels of education. Balancing technical measures with privacy rights was highlighted as essential.

However, Chamber of Deputies member Marcel Kolaja criticized potential privacy erosion resulting from the European Commission's proposed regulation. The discussion also touched upon the difficulty of proving online crimes and the prevalence of sexually explicit content being received and sent by Czech children.

DIPLOMACY Prince Edward visits Prague today

Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh and brother of King Charles III, is set to arrive in the Czech Republic today from Germany via train at the invitation of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award (DofE). The visit, originally planned for September but postponed due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, will focus on the DofE project.

Prince Edward will visit various locations, including Vestec, a youth center in Prague, and the National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror. The DofE program, established by Prince Philip in 1956, aims to foster personal growth among young individuals through volunteering, physical activities, and skill development.

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