The EU has said it has reached a compromise on the free movement of labour after EU enlargement, although details of the deal have not been released. Gunnar Lund, Sweden's ambassador to the EU, told reporters that the compromise would be presented to candidate countries by the end of this week. Germany and Austria have insisted on a seven-year transition period during which people from new member states would be unable to work freely in the EU, one of the Union's fundamental freedoms. The two countries are concerned that their markets will be flooded by cheap labour from the East, a prediction rejected by the Czech Republic and other candidate countries. Finding a compromise on free movement of labour is seen as crucial to avoid delaying the expansion process any further. The compromise is expected to be presented in Brussels on Friday, during negotiations with the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Slovenia and Cyprus - the six leading candidates for membership.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has held a series of meetings with senior Czech officials on the second day of his visit to Prague. The Czech President Vaclav Havel told reporters after meeting Mr Solana that discussions had focused on EU expansion, a common European defence system, and unrest in the Balkans. Later Mr Solana met the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman.
A spokesman for the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia says several cubic metres of radioactive water leaked from the plant's reactor on Wednesday during tests. The spokesman said radiation levels were very low, as all the water had remained within the reactor's safety shell. He added there was no danger to the plant's staff or the environment, and said the leak was caused by human error, not system failure. The clean up operation was completed by Thursday morning. Temelin has been the source of a bitter dispute with anti-nuclear Austria and environmentalists, who say that its design, which combines Russian technology with a U.S. safety system, may be dangerous. Temelin is currently shut down for repairs.
The Interior Ministry has cleared police of failing to intervene in a concert by neo-Nazi groups held in the village of Senohraby, near Prague, in April. The investigation was launched after the Czech media accused police of ignoring displays of fascism before and during the concert. Footage of a bus that carried visitors to and from the concert clearly showed a swastika on one of the windows. The Interior Ministry said, however, that the bus was too far away from the police to be seen. The report added that although some of the skinheads were seen raising their arms, it was impossible for the police to decide that this constituted the Nazi salute.
Former Czech foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier, is no longer the United Nation's special envoy for human rights in the former Yugoslavia. Mr. Dienstbier's three-year contract has not been renewed by the UN's human rights commission. Mr Dienstbier told journalists that conditions in former Yugoslavia have changed - Croatia and Serbia, for example no longer need special monitoring - and therefore the Commission plans to set up a different body that's specially tailored to the region's problems.
The speaker of the lower house, Vaclav Klaus, is currently on an official trip to Singapore. Mr Klaus met several senior politicians, including Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and the chairman of parliament, Tan Soo Khoon, for talks on trade and other issues on Thursday. Mr. Klaus made note of the fact that the Czech Republic is looking for a new market for its products outside of Europe and stressed that Singapore was one of the markets wanted. The last year has seen a significant strengthening of political and business ties between the two countries with trade reaching a record level of 230 million US dollars in the year 2000.
Five-time Olympic champion, Michael Johnson, has pulled out of an international athletics meeting, after leaving the Czech Republic for family reasons. The 33 year old athlete who was visiting the Czech Republic, was scheduled to run on Thursday in a 4x400 metre relay in Ostrava, about 350 kilometres (210 miles) east of Prague. Mr. Johnson stated that he was terribly sorry but had to travel home as quickly as possible, to be near his mother at "this very difficult time." The statement did not elaborate any further.
And finally, a quick look at the weather. Friday will be partially cloudy with occasional showers and temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius. Showers are expected to continue throughout the weekend and temperatures will drop gradually, to reach 15 degrees Celsius by Sunday.
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