Hundreds of thousands of Czechs live in "panelaky" - the concrete panel apartment buildings that were constructed during the communist era. These buildings are often criticised for being depressingly drab and poorly constructed, but life in them has generally improved since the fall of communism - and some people think that life in a panelak is still the way to go.
This week over 120 representatives from EU member states and candidate countries met in Prague for a two day workshop co-organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the European Liaison Committee for Social Housing and the Czech Ministry for Regional Development. The main aim of the meeting was to hammer out a common definition of social housing and put it high on the political agenda - in view of the planned expansion of the EU. Hubert Van Eyck is vice president of the UNEC's Committee on Human Settlements:
The coalition government of the Social Democrats, and the junior partners the Christian Democrats and the right-of-centre Freedom Union cannot reach agreement over the controversial issue of state controlled rents for about 200,000 homes in the Czech Republic. A new proposal submitted by the Christian Democrats a week ago seems to have raised the temperature still more.