Changes to regulations over the legal requirements for foreign residents of the Czech Republic, passed by the Chamber of Deputies yesterday, will mean that those foreigners with commercial insurance will from now on be restricted to using Pojišťovna VZP as their insurer. The law was passed despite warnings from opponents, including several government ministers, that the step would create an undesirable monopoly. Photo Credit: Psp.cz.
Czech Rep., Jul 14 (BD) – The Chamber of Deputies has passed a series of amendments to laws governing the status of foreign residents of the Czech Republic, the so-called Foreigners Act. One of the key changes will require all foreigners with commercial insurance to use Pojišťovna VZP for the first five years, according to reports in various Czech media outlets. Only after this time would they be able to switch to other insurance companies.
Critics of the law, including the Ministry of Health, the Czech Insurance Association and the Chamber of Commerce, warned the move would create an unacceptable monopoly which would be in conflict with EU law. Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (ČSSD), Finance Minister Alena Schillerová (ANO) and Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) wrote to Deputies endorsing an alternative proposal from the Senate that foreigners should only be registered if they are covered by health insurance. The Senate version finally received 71 votes from the 158 present, opposed by legislators from SPD, the Communist Party, and many from ANO. The Lower House proposal received 108 votes out of 160 present, and was duly passed.
The Foreigners Act was proposed to harmonise regulations on the status of foreigners in the Czech Republic with EU law, and aims to create a legal distinction between close family members (ie. spouses, children, and parents) and other dependents, such as unmarried partners. Rules for both groups should be streamlined; under the law, only the former group will have an automatic path to temporary and permanent residency, while the latter group will be allowed to stay in the Czech Republic for a longer period and will not have to justify the purpose of their stay. Any foreigners already in the Czech Republic will retain their current status and should be unaffected by these changes.