The Czech Republic is among a group of countries that, the European Commission says, make it difficult to import used cars from other EU states. This is despite the fact that new regulations come into effect on Saturday that are to liberalise the import of older cars. The EC accuses the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Austria and Luxembourg of violating the free movement of goods by introducing tougher conditions for used cars from abroad than for local cars that are just as old.
The election of a new lower house speaker, which was scheduled to take
place shortly before noon on Thursday, was delayed as deputies waged a
war of words for almost two hours. The debate was triggered by outgoing
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek who criticised terms of a new coalition
agreement between the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats, and the
Greens. Mr Paroubek opposed the coalition's plans to introduce flat tax
and also rejected their health reform and foreign policy plans.
The Civic Democrats' candidate for the post of lower house speaker, Miroslava Nemcova, was also under attack. To Mr Paroubek, Mrs Nemcova is a fanatic. Social Democrat Health Minister David Rath pointed out that Mrs Nemcova has in the past permitted her family the unauthorised use of her official car: "Whoever leads the lower house needs to be on top of things and broad-minded and not someone who steals rolls in a grocery store," he said.
The Czech Republic is among the countries where children start consuming alcohol at a dangerously young age, experts agreed at a Prague conference on Thursday. Every tenth 11-year old and over forty percent of 14-year olds have been drunk at least once, statistics say. The amounts consumed by boys versus girls are also gradually evening out, says alcohol dependency expert Michal Miovsky.
The only candidate for the post of speaker of the lower house of
parliament, Miroslava Nemcova, has not been elected in the second round of
secret balloting. Just like in the first round, she was three votes short
of gaining a majority of votes. Mrs Nemcova was proposed for the post by
the Civic Democratic Party. It appears that at least one MP from one of
the party's two coalition partners, the Christian Democrats or the Greens,
voted against Mrs Nemcova's election.
Deputies, who have a maximum of ten days to hold a third round of voting, will reportedly not cast their votes before next week Friday.
Outgoing Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek supports the decision of Slovakia's Robert Fico to enter into a coalition government with two fringe parties. Mr Fico, whose left Smer party won a June 17 election, invited the centre-left party of former authoritarian Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and the far-right Slovak National Party of Jan Slota for talks on creating a government on Wednesday. Mr Paroubek said that although he understood Mr Fico he himself would have acted differently. The chairman of the Czech Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, on the other hand has said he will not comment until the new government takes office.
The country's leading trade union organization has slammed the centre-right coalition agreement signed by the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens, saying that the programme outlined would benefit the rich and hurt the poor and middle-classes. The head of the Confederation of Czech and Moravian trade unions, Milan Stech, said that the agreed on tax reform would hurt not only family budgets but possibly local budgets as well, since there was no indication of how the state budget would compensate for lower tax revenues.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek announced on Wednesday that he will resign after an extraordinary government session on July 3, triggering the fall of his government and opening the way for a new administration. The move will allow President Vaclav Klaus to appoint Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek as the next prime minister. Mr. Topolanek has managed to form a three party centre-right coalition but he lacks a majority in Parliament, where the left and right parties hold a hundred seats each.
Fixed-line operator Cesky Telecom and its mobile arm Eurotel will merge on July 1 and will begin operating under a new brand name, Telefonica O2 Czech Republic, representatives of the companies told journalists today. Cesky Telecom CEO Jamie Smith said that most of the rebranding for the merged unit should be completed by the end of the year. In the first year of its existence the new company will merge sale and customer care, in the second year it will focus on the domestic market segmentation and in the third year on IT integration. Telefonica of Spain bought Cesky Telecom last year, and now controls 70 percent of the company. Telecom is the sole owner of Eurotel.
Meanwhile the outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has indicated that he too would like a chance to form the next government, should the centre-right coalition fail to win approval in the lower house. Mr. Paroubek, whose Social Democrats came second in the elections, said on Tuesday that he was confident he could assemble the necessary 101 votes, and that under such circumstances President Klaus would have no choice but to entrust him with the task of forming a new cabinet.
Czech police have detained two Germans suspected of abusing underage boys and girls from the Klatovy region in the west of the Czech Republic, a spokeswoman told AFP on Wednesday. One of the detained men is a 47-year-old from the Rhineland Palatinate region in western Germany, the other a 60-year-old from Deggendorf in Bavaria. The men gained the children's trust, lured them into a caravan and had sexual relations with them on several different occasions, according to a Klatovy police spokeswoman. Czech and German police have been jointly investigating the cases for several months.