Insight Central Europe News

28-04-2006

Poland's ruling conservatives have failed to form a majority government after a small rural party unexpectedly rejected their coalition offer. The ruling Law and Justice Party has signed a coalition deal with leftist Self-Defence and part of the nationalist-right group the League of Polish Families, but this is not enough to give them a majority in parliament. The failure to put together a majority greatly increases the likelihood of an early election.

The European Union president Austria has played down the chances of reaching a consensus on the future of the embattled EU constitution before the end of its six-month presidency. Austria is to host a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in May, to discuss the future, as part of what has been officially described as the EU's "period of reflection". Austria's Foreign Minister, Ursula Plassnik, acknowledged that it was currently unrealistic even to try to settle the fate of EU Constitutional Treaty to the satisfaction of all 25 members.

The Hungarian Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, has said that Hungarians need to brace themselves for major reforms in the public sector. Mr Gyurcsany, who was elected to a second term last weekend, said that the reforms would inevitably affect the conditions that people have become used to. Hungary currently has the biggest budget deficit in the European Union, relative to the size of the economy.

France will partially open its labour market to citizens from the new EU member countries as of May 1st. The French ambassador to the Czech Republic Joel de Zorzi said on Thursday that people in selected professions would be given work permits automatically. The opening concerns people with manual professions, mainly craftsmen. At present citizens from the new EU member states can work freely only in Britain, Ireland and Sweden. Spain, Portugal and Finland are also considering a partial liberalization.

Waste disposal crews have started clearing out the remains of several dumps of illegal German waste from the small Czech town of Libceves. The Bavarian authorities recently acknowledged responsibility for some of the imported waste and have been talking with the Czech side on how to deal with its disposal. Locals have put pressure on the Czech authorities to have the illegal waste removed as soon as possible. Since the beginning of the year over 20 thousand tons of waste has been illegally imported to Czech border areas from neighbouring Germany.

The head of the Slovak National Security Office, which oversees the vetting of people in sensitive security positions, has admitted that hackers managed to break into the office's computer network. Ivan Goldschmidt told the daily paper SME that it amounted to a security failure, but that no classified information had been leaked.

France has imported a female brown bear from Slovenia and released it into the Pyrenees. The aim is to build up the dwindling bear population. "Palouma," as the bear is called, was released on Tuesday night, 24 hours after it was captured in Slovenia and transported to France in a truck. Local farmers have opposed the move, because of fears for their livestock.

28-04-2006