The European Commission has warned Canada to lift visa requirements for Czech citizens by the end of the year or face retaliatory action from the EU. Canada re-imposed visas on Czechs in July of this year, citing a growing number of asylum seekers, and has shown no indication of reconsidering or softening the measure in the foreseeable future. A European Commission spokesman said on Tuesday that unless the problem was resolved by the end of the year, it would act on the solidarity principle and recommend retaliatory action targeting Canadian diplomats and government employees. Even if such a recommendation were made, it would be up to individual member states to decide whether they want to implement it.
The Czech Football Association on Tuesday appointed former Sparta Prague and Real Betis midfielder Michal Bilek the country’s national team coach. The 44-year-old Bilek was assistant to the team’s last coach Ivan Hašek, who announced his resignation a week ago after the Czechs failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Bílek is already the fourth Czech coach this year after Hašek, František Straka and Petr Rada. Bílek, capped 35 times with 11 goals, played at the 1990 World Championships in Italy, after which he moved from Sparta Prague to Real Betis in the Spanish La Liga. With Sparta, he won the top Czech league seven times and was elected Footballer of the Year 1989.
The supervisory board of Czech Airlines is meeting to decide on a definitive plan for restructuring the struggling carrier which made record losses in the first half of the year. The main focus will be on extracting pay cuts from employees and cutting the 4,600 workforce. The government is due to decide by the end of the month whether to go ahead with Czech Airlines' privatisation and accept the sole bid from the Unimex-Travel Service consortium.
In a related development, Milan Kindl, a former vice-dean of the Plzen law faculty has requested an investigation into the affair by an independent parliamentary commission. Mr Kindl, who is one of the central figures in this scandal, claims that the alleged irregularities are being blown out of proportion. The investigation revealed that dozens of graduation theses were missing from the faculty’s library and that over 400 graduates had acquired fast-track degrees, some over a period of two months during the summer holidays.
Last week’s heavy snowfall in northern Moravia which brought down power lines and left thousands of people without light and heating across the region is estimated to have cost tens of millions of crowns in damages, the CTK news agency reported on Tuesday. The snow calamity has now been called off but in some areas maintenance workers are still clearing away fallen trees and electricity supplier ČEZ has yet to restore power to several hundred homes.
Caretaker Prime Minister Jan Fischer is to present Parliament with his
government’s policy programme and a draft budget for 2010 on Wednesday.
The draft budget is expected to pass smoothly through its first reading in
the lower house after four parties pledged to support it in the first vote.
The 2010 budget proposal envisages a deficit of 163 billion crowns, which is 5.3 percent of GDP, revenues of 1,022 billion crowns and expenditures of almost 1,185 billion.
The supervisory board of Czech Airlines decided changes at the top of the struggling state-controlled carrier on Monday. The current head of the state-owned company running Prague airport, Miroslav Dvořák has been brought in for outgoing president Radomír Lašák. The board itself has a new head, economist Miroslav Zámečník. Mr Lašák said pilots had agreed to 15 percent wage cuts, stewardesses 10 percent and other staff 5.0 percent in talks before he left. But Mr Zámečník said deeper cuts were needed. The government is due by the end of the month to decide whether to go ahead with Czech Airlines' privatisation and accept the sole bid from the Unimex-Travel Service consortium.
The Czech choice of a new European Commissioner should be made within two or three weeks, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said on Monday. Mr Fischer stressed that he still had not received a formal request from the European Commission to start the process and that there was no hurry. The traditional main parties have all advanced their own candidates for the plum post. The Social Democrats want current commissioner and former prime minister Vladimír Špidla to stay on. The Civic Democrats have put forward former European affairs minister Alexandr Vondra. The Greens have advanced economist Jan Švejnar, the Christian Democrats Pavel Svoboda and Communists Vladimír Remek.
Czech police have pressed charges against more people in connection with the deaths of eight passengers when a bridge collapsed on the international high speed train they were travelling on in August 2008. The Czech News Agency said charges have been pressed against three people working for an engineering company and three for a building company. Both companies were working on the bridge in northern Moravia. Charges were also lodged against an employee of the regional highway directorate and an external worker for the engineering company. Until now only two employees of the engineering company have been charged with not taking action although they knew that the bridge was structurally dangerous.
The government is prepared for a constitutional confrontation with
President Václav Klaus if he persists in blocking the Lisbon treaty, the
magazine Respekt reported on Monday. It says the government is considering
asking the Czech Constitutional Court to rule whether President Klaus can
continue to refuse signing the EU’s reforming treaty if his current
demands are met and the court rules that the treaty is not in conflict
Czech law. Respekt says the government would ask the court's permission
the prime minister to ratify the treaty if it ruled against the president.
The government is prepared to inform EU leaders of its stance at a summit
at the end of this month, it adds.
President Klaus suggested in an interview on Saturday that the Lisbon treaty had gone too far to be stopped and that he could not delay ratification until British elections next spring.
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