The region of Olomouc is to discontinue its coverage of patients’ healthcare fees as of July 1. The regional council made the decision on Monday based on a proposal from community councillors. The governor’s office has been covering the 30-crown fee since early last year at a cost of 42 million crowns. Healthcare fees of 30 crowns at the doctor’s and for individual prescriptions, as well as higher amounts for emergency ward visits and hospital stays, were first introduced by Mirek Topolánek’s government in 2008. Earlier this month, coverage by regional governments was labelled “discriminatory” by the European Commission, which said that either all patients in the country should be covered – or none.
Members of the Czech upper house, the Senate, on Wednesday backed the Czech government’s stand against a European proposal for a tax on banks in spite of support for it from left leaning Social Democrats. The European Commission proposal calls for the tax to ensure that in future banking crises a special fund will be available to bail out banks without the state having to immediately step in. Germany, France and Britain have already said they will introduce such a tax. Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer opposed the move last week at a summit of European leaders in Brussels. He said there were too many uncertainties about it. European affairs minister Juraj Chmiel warned on Wednesday that the tax would be passed onto bank customers in the form of higher charges.
The European Commission has approved the Czech Republic’s plan for film production incentives. The programme allows the state to return up to 20% of the money spent by film productions in the Czech Republic and will be effective until the end of 2015. The scheme is intended to bring back what was a thriving industry until the first half of the decade, and was hurt by similar incentives being introduced in other European countries. In 2004 alone, foreign film production in the Czech Republic declined by 70%
Foreign film producers have good reason to return to Prague. Once a thriving filming location, the Czech Republic lost out to competition from Hungary, Romania and other countries of central and eastern Europe which offered lower prices and lucrative tax rebates. In an effort to lure them back, the Czech government came up with its own incentives package which has now been approved the European Commission.
The Czech Republic is against the introduction of a new bank tax in the European Union which should serve as a reserve fund for possible liquidity crises. Caretaker prime minister, Jan Fischer, who is attending Thursday’s EU summit on economic policy, said that in its present form the proposal was too rigid and too many questions remained unanswered. The EC is pushing for a common stand on the issue ahead of a G20 finance ministers meeting at the end of June, where it hopes to persuade other countries to adopt similar measures. Another controversial issue discussed is whether the EC should have the right to review member states’ budgets before they are presented to national parliaments for approval.
In an evaluation of deficit reducing measures adopted by twelve EU member
states, the European Commission said on Tuesday that the steps implemented
by the Czech government were sufficient. The commission said that Czech
authorities implemented deficit reducing measures in 2010 as planned, and
took additional steps in the course of the year to reach the 2010 deficit
target of 5.7 percent of the country’s GDP. Overall, the commission
estimates the fiscal impact of these measures at more than 2 percent of
The Czech Republic faced excessive deficit procedures last December, when the budget deficit reached 5.9 percent of GDP; the European Commission requires that the deficit be less than three percent by 2013.
The European Union’s top court, the European Court of Justice, has ruled
that the Czech Republic failed to properly put into effect a directive
setting out the rules for the environmental evaluation of public and
private construction projects. The decision means that the country will
have to pay court costs but will not face any other penalties.
The long delayed rules were eventually passed by the Czech parliament in December 2009 after the court proceedings had already been launched. They should have been passed in 2005. Part of the delay was due to a veto on the proposed rules from President Václav Klaus. He said they amounted to a new weapon for environmental groups to block construction projects.
Czech trade unions and employers criticized on Thursday the government’s national development plan, a part of the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy. Trade union leader Jaroslav Zavadil said the document was a total failure, while the head of the Industry and Trade Association, Jaroslav Míl, questioned the underlying idea of the Europe 2020 strategy. Mr Míl said the EU should instead focus on priorities and issues that would increase Europe’s competitiveness. In reaction to the criticism, Prime Minister Jan Ficher said the government would present only an abbreviated version of the national strategy at an EU summit in Brussels on June 17.
The European Commission has become involved in an ongoing dispute about patient fees in the Czech Republic. The Commission has given an informal an informal verdict that it considers the practice of some left-leaning regional authorities to repay patients’ fees as amounting to illegal public support, the Czech competition watchdog has announced. The deputy chairman of the competition office said it was not clear what further steps Brussels would take with regard to the matter. Fees for visits to the doctor and stays in hospital were introduced by the centre-right coalition government in 2006 but have been opposed by Social Democrat regional authorities with some refunding the charges.