Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has voiced his belief that EU members and candidates will soon be able to finalise the text of the EU constitution. Speeking at Saturday's meeting of representatives of the 15 European Union member states and the ten accession countries in Rome, Mr Spidla cited several points in which the Czech Republic will demand changes to the proposed constitution, as drafted by the European Union Convention. The Czech government expects the inter-governmental conference, which started on Saturday, to provide space for raising especially those issues relating to the balance of European Union institutions, equality of EU members and cohesion of the EU. The Czech Republic wants every country to appoint one full-fledged commissioner even after 2009. Mr Spidla demanded that the rotation of countries at the head of the Council of Ministers be clarified. He spoke in favour of a team rotation chairmanship.
The Finance Ministry says it wants to collect 422 billion crowns worth of taxes in 2004, that is almost 27 billion more than this year. It means that next year, every Czech citizen will pay 40,000 crowns (1,300 euros) on average in taxes, a spokeswoman for the Finance Ministry told the CTK news agency. One third of the money collected is expected to come from value added tax. Taxes represent more than one half of the state budget revenues. Despite growing revenues, next year, the state is expecting its budget deficit to amount to 115 billion crowns.
The US economist and former Secretary of Labor in President Clinton's cabinet, Robert Reich, has been awarded a prize presented annually by the Vision 97 Foundation, established by former Czech President Vaclav Havel and his second wife Dagmar in 1997. The award is given to outstanding scientists and thinkers whose work has significantly helped to broaden peoples' horizons while addressing the fundamental questions of human existence. Since its founding in 1999, the prize has been awarded to the American neurosurgeon Karl Pribram, the Italian historian, writer and thinker Umberto Eco, the Czech scientist and philosopher Zdenek Neubauer and the German-born American computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum.
The cause and culprit of Saturday's car crash which claimed the lives of three police officers in the North Moravian town of Cesky Tesin have not yet been found. The officers' squad car and a Mercedes collided on a Cesky Tesin street at about 3 a.m. The 30-year-old Mercedes driver and a woman passenger were seriously injured. According to a regional police spokeswoman, the Mercedes driver was found to have a blood-alcohol ratio of 1.97, despite the fact that the Czech Republic has a zero-tolerance law against drinking and driving. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross described the fatal accident as an "outrageous end" to the week-long nationwide police operation code named "Krystof" which was meant to increase road security in the Czech Republic, nevertheless failed to prevent a large number of fatal accidents over the weekend which by 5 pm on Sunday claimed 21 lives.
Sunday saw this autumn's first real snow showers in the South Bohemian Sumava mountains and snow has also been forecast for Monday in mountainous areas. Monday should have cloudy skies and it should rain for most of the day. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 8 to 12 degrees Celsius.
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