- Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has become, in the past few months, the protagonist of a discussion that arose in the European Union context, due to an alleged conflict of interest. The Prime Minister’s owned agricultural holding company Agrofert encompasses an entity that has been a recipient of EU subsidies. This case was, as a consequence, followed by the European public prosecutor’s office. Despite the supposed fraud scandal, Babiš came out unscathed from a confidence vote in the Czech Parliament. Last June, however, in the context of the European Parliament, 505 MEPs voted to proceed with a non-binding resolution to condemn the Prime Minister’s actions in relation to Agrofert.
- Certain words pronounced by the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, at the end of June, triggered new discussions at the domestic and international level. More specifically, in the course of a TV interview, Zeman referred to transgenders as “disgusting” people, while commenting on the newly introduced anti-LGBTQ measure by Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. As a fact, Czech Republic opted not to oppose the cited Hungarian law, contrary to a majority of EU Member States.
- At the end of June, a death in the Roma community brought again attention to the socioeconomic conditions of the minority in the Czech Republic and to discriminatory tendencies, particularly in the northwestern part of the country. Resemblance to George Floyd’s death has resulted in the case gaining relevance not exclusively at the domestic level. Videos of the event display police officers kneeling on the man’s neck. Nevertheless, according to the information later released by the Czech Police, the autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a drug overdose.
- A new law, introduced by Orbán’s government in the first days of June, has triggered high concerns at the EU and international levels. Passed by the Hungarian parliament by 157 votes, the amendments proceeded with a ban of LGBTQ-friendly content from minors’ television broadcasting and programs. The law condemns homosexual and transgender content in companies’ advertising campaigns, as well, and comprehends measures aimed at targeting paedophilia and the management of sexual education for children and adolescents. This eventually resulted in Brussels’ decision to initiate legal procedures since Hungary’s actions clash with the EU legislation, particularly in terms of human rights, freedom of expression and information and free movement of goods. Moreover, domestically, the measure sparked social protests in support of the LGBTQ community.
- Anti-LGBTQ and discriminatory practices from Hungarian citizens were highlighted in the context of the Euro 2020 football events, as well. As a consequence of an investigation carried due to the display of discriminatory and homophobic banners and behavior during the matches that took place in Budapest and Munich, UEFA proceeded with a sanctioning measure. More precisely, for Hungary, the next three UEFA matches will be behind closed doors. Moreover, the Hungarian Football Federation received a fine of EUR 100,000. The Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto reacted to the decision by referring to UEFA as a “pitiful and cowardly body”.
- Disagreements escalated internationally in regard to the Polish coal mine of Turow, owned by the PGE Group, the largest energy company in Poland. The Turow mine represents a high risk in terms of pollution, for the country itself and for Germany and the Czech Republic equally, directly impacting on the daily needs of neighbouring villagers, as well. Despite the order issued by the European Court of Justice to stop mining, Poland has persisted – and intends to persist – with the activities, provoking a further strong response by neighboring Czech Republic. For its part, Poland perceives the mine as extremely necessary for the country’s energy supply.
- On July 15th, the European Court of Justice ruled the incompatibility of the Polish judicial reforms with the EU law. Polish initiatives under scrutiny include measures that make it impossible for judges to refer to the ECJ, as well as the establishment of a “disciplinary chamber” that does not guarantee the principle of independence of the judiciary. Nevertheless, simultaneously, controversies have sparked regarding the primacy and binding character of the European Union law over the Member States’ national legislations. The Polish constitutional court has ruled out that the orders issued by the ECJ are not binding and should not be implemented in the country. This has been interpreted by several scholars and officials as a first step undertaken by Poland to exit the EU.
- The negative impact of the climate crisis has been extremely visible in Poland. Several natural phenomena have been affecting the country. However, the Polish government has not taken concrete action. As a consequence, five individual claimants have initiated legal actions, in the attempt to encourage an active national response to protect the environment and climate, particularly by reducing emissions. These individuals’ daily lives and jobs have been directly affected by climate change.
- In spite of the government’s proud decision to implement the Russian Sputnik V jab as part of the Slovakian vaccination strategy against Covid-19 in the first months of 2021, citizens’ response has proved to be delusional, with extremely low demand for the non-EMA-approved jab. By June 23, only 8,000 had effectively received both doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. By the beginning of July Slovakia had 160,000 unused doses and was, therefore, looking for possible recipients and/or purchasers of the remaining jabs. Among these possible beneficiaries are Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.
- As a consequence of a law passed in the context of the Slovak Parliament in the last days of June, former members of the country’s communist regime will undergo a reduction of their pensions, starting from August 2021. The target of this legislation will be around 5,000 individuals. The initiative aims at giving a warning and differentiating between prosecuted and prosecutors. Pensions will be subject to a cut according to the number of years the targeted people spent serving in Slovak communist institutions and organizations.
 Mortkowitz, Siegfried. “European Parliament condemns Czech PM over conflicts of interest”. Politico Europe. June 10, 2021. Available at: https://www.politico.eu/article/european-parliament-andrej-babis-subsidies-agrofert/
 “Milos Zeman: Czech president calls transgender people ‘disgusting’”. BBC News. June 28, 2021. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57635373
 Hutt, David. “For Europe’s Roma, a death at Czech police hands is a familiar tragedy”. Euronews. June 24, 2021.Available at: https://www.euronews.com/2021/06/24/for-the-czech-republic-s-roma-the-czech-george-floyd-is-just-the-latest-injustice
 Eder, Florian, Darmanin, Jules. “EU to take legal action against Hungary’s anti-gay law”. Politico Europe. July 15, 2021. Available at: https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-to-take-legal-action-against-hungarys-anti-gay-law/
 O’Sullivan, Catriona. “Pro LGBT protest against new Hungarian law”. Euronews. July 8th, 2021. Available at: https://www.euronews.com/2021/07/08/pro-lgbt-protest-against-new-hungarian-law
 “UEFA Punishes Hungary For Fans’ Behavior During Euro 2020 Matches”. Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty. July 9, 2021. Available at: https://www.rferl.org/a/uefa-hungary-soccer-euros-/31351037.html
 MacInnes, Paul. “Hungarian minister calls Uefa ‘pitiful’ after fans’ racism results in sanction”. The Guardian. July 10, 2021. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/jul/09/uefa-imposes-sanctions-on-hungary-for-fans-racist-behaviour-at-euro-2020
 Easton, Adam. “Turow: Vast Polish coal mine infuriates the neighbours”. BBC News. June 17, 2021. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57484009
 Mortkowitz, Siegfried. “Slovakia’s experiment with Sputnik vaccine ends with a whimper”. Politico Europe. July 1, 2021. Available at: https://www.politico.eu/article/slovakia-experiment-sputnik-coronavirus-vaccine-ends/
 “Slovakia: Parliament backs pension cuts for former communist officials”. Euronews. June 23, 2021. Available at:https://www.euronews.com/2021/06/23/slovakia-parliament-backs-pension-cuts-for-former-communist-officials