Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

20-02-2004

Kuzvart gives up candidacy for EU commissioner

The Czech Republic's candidate for EU commissioner, Social Democrat MP Milos Kuzvart officially announced on Friday he was no longer interested in the post. Mr. Kuzvart said he was giving up the candidacy because he did not feel sufficient support from the government. Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda criticised the ruling Social Democrats for having chosen Mr. Kuzvart despite disapproval of the other two coalition partners.

Spidla released from hospital, resting at home

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has been released from hospital and is resting at home, after collapsing on Friday morning. Mr Spidla fainted during a meeting of Social Democrat MPs in parliament. A spokeswoman said Mr Spidla began feeling unwell shortly after 9am and an ambulance was called. Mr Spidla, who is 52 and a keen long-distance runner, is not believed to be suffering from any serious health problems. However he has been under severe pressure recently from rebel Social Democrat MPs unhappy with the government's public finance reforms. According to some reports, Mr Spidla collapsed after the Czech Republic's official candidate for EU commissioner Milos Kuzvart announced his resignation.

Main opposition Civic Democrats call on govt to seek new EU commissioner

The senior opposition Civic Democrats have called on the government to start a new round of debates on a Czech candidate to the European Commission. The Civic Democrats said they considered the situation harmful to the Czech Republic's international reputation. They also criticised the government for pushing Mr. Kuzvart as the country's candidate without a broader political support. The Civic Democrats had proposed former environment minister Bedrich Moldan as a candidate and said they were willing to start discussing a generally acceptable compromise.

Aero to lay off 400 staff by May

The troubled Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody will lay off about 400 staff by May, reducing its workforce to 1,600 people. The company said it was not planning any more massive layoffs. Aero finds itself in a difficult situation after minority shareholder, US aircraft maker Boeing which had a managerial control, left the company after an agreement with the Czech government as the majority owner. Boeing had been repeatedly criticised for failing to deliver on its promise to develop Aero and find new markets worldwide. Having no new contracts, Aero has become heavily indebted and has had to make redundancies.

Klaus signs bill cutting road tax for trucks

Czech President Vaclav Klaus signed a new law on Friday reducing the road tax for environment-friendly trucks. The law will reduce costs for transport companies who have had to cope with higher excise tax on diesel and more expensive highway stickers since the beginning of this year. The law cuts road tax by 66 per cent for trucks complying with the Euro 3 standard and by 60 per cent for older trucks meeting the Euro 2 standard. Last autumn, transport firms threatened to stage protests over growing costs, but in the end, they agreed with the government on compensation in the form of a lower road tax.

Weather forecast

We are expecting a mostly clear day with morning fogs in some places. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius.

20-02-2004