Europe's beer-loving nations joined forces on Tuesday, when the Czechs, Germans, Lithuanians and Latvians blocked an EU proposal to raise taxes on the beverage. The European Commission had proposed a rise in excise duty, which would have put around one euro cent on the price of a pint. The minimum EU duty on beer and spirits hasn't been revised for 14 years, and supporters say the rise is needed to reflect inflation. With an annual per capita consumption of 156 litres, Czechs drink more beer than anyone else in the world.
Staying with beer, the Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar announced this week that the patent office in Portugal had registered its Budweiser Budvar trademark in that country, despite objections from its rival, the U.S. beer giant Anheuser-Busch. The decision is a victory for the Czech brewer in a complex trademark battle with the American firm. Anheuser-Busch and Budejovicky Budvar are currently involved in some 40 lawsuits worldwide over the right to the Budweiser Budvar name.
Delvita supermarkets could soon be a thing of the past after Belgian owners Delhaize said they would be bidding "adieu" or "vaarwel" to the Czech Republic. Delhaize, which operates 96 Delvita stores around the country, has posted huge losses in recent years. The chain is the fourth major retailer to announce it would be quitting the Czech market. Delhaize may merge with Dutch rival Ahold, which operates 297 Albert and Hypernova supermarkets in the Czech Republic.
The Czech crown reached an all-time high against the euro this week, setting a new record of 27.87 to the euro during trading on Monday. The crown gradually slipped back over the following days, and on Friday morning was trading at 28.19 to the euro. Analysts say the Czech currency - which is also strong against the dollar - seems totally unruffled by the country's five-month-long political crisis.
Minority shareholders in petrochemical group Unipetrol have demanded that prime minister Mirek Topolanek and trade and industry minister Martin Riman call off the company's privatisation. The call came during an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Unipetrol's sale to Polish company PKN Orlen in 2004. Minority shareholders are said to be especially unhappy with the sale of Unipetrol units Kaucuk and Spolana.
The rate of perceived corruption in the Czech Republic has declined but the country still ranks among the worst in the EU, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International announced this week. The country came 46th out of 163 countries on Transparency's annual corruption perceptions index, published on November 6th. The country scored 4.8 points on a scale of one to ten, alongside Kuwait and Lithuania.
Setting up a company in the Czech Republic takes 24 days, compared to the
average of 16 in OECD countries, according to a report released by the
World Bank. The Czech Republic ranks 74th in the world in terms of
difficulty in starting a company. While there are six steps involved in
starting a firm in more advanced countries, here there are ten.
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Gene Deitch, Part 1: The Oscar-winning US animator who made Tom and Jerry cartoons in communist Prague