The European Union will take appropriate steps if the pre-election struggle in Bulgaria threatens the position of the Czech state-owned company ČEZ in the country, the head of the head the European Council Herman Van Rompuy pledged on Thursday during a meeting with Czech President Miloš Zeman. Hynek Kmoníček, the head of the presidential office’s foreign affairs dept. revealed the news a day after the two men met at Prague Castle. "We would like the EU to fulfil its role of the top supervisor on EU standards," Mr Kmoníček told the Czech news agency. ČEZ´s problems in Bulgaria, the CTK noted, began after Bulgarians´ mass protests against high energy bills. Demonstrators demanded the nationalisation of the distribution companies in the country that are owned besides ČEZ by another Czech firm, Energo-Pro and the Austrian EVN. The protests resulted in fall of Boiko Borisov´s right-wing government.
This week in Business News: The construction sector in the Czech Republic is expected to restart growth in 2014; Škoda Yeti was voted the most popular car by British car owners; ČEZ has asked two remaining contenders in the Temelín expansion deal to submit better offers; Economic confidence is down in April, after two straight months of improvement; The Federation of Food and Drink Industries wants to introduce stricter rules on product labeling; Trade unions and employers reach no agreement on minimum wage increase.
The Finance Ministry has announced plans to withdraw 6,000 licences for video lottery terminals which were originally issued until the end of 2014. The move is being made in line with the wishes of individual town halls which aim to cub gambling. The Czech Constitutional Court recently upheld a complaint filed collectively by town halls that attacked an article of the lottery law enabling the finance ministry to issue video lottery terminal licences over their heads.
On a working visit to Prague the president of the European Council, Herman
van Rompuy said the EU had weathered the worst of economic crisis and the
future of the euro was no longer at stake. He said the EU must now focus on
jump starting the economy and creating thousands of new jobs in order to
secure the return of financial stability. Prime Minister Petr Necas said
that, while it was in the Czech Republic’s best interests to help the
euro zone’s recovery, Prague was in no hurry to exchange the crown for
the euro and such a decision would have to be made on the basis of a
national referendum. Mr. Van Rompuy assured his host the European Council
would not pressurize Prague on the matter, adding that since the Czech
Republic did not fulfil the respective critieria for euro zone membership
it was not an issue of the present day.
Mr van Rompuy also met with the Czech president, Miloš Zeman. The European Council president’s visit comes some three weeks after the head of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, attended the ceremony of hoisting the EU flag at Prague Castle.
The rather moribund debate over when to join the single European currency has been revived in recent days, with the Czech president Miloš Zeman telling a German newspaper his country could adopt the euro within five years. The eurosceptic government is rather more cautious; prime minister Petr Nečas reiterated after a meeting with the head of the European Council on Thursday that his government had no plans to set a date for adoption.
The Czech Education Ministry has finalized a draft reform of university education, the news agency ČTK reported. The reform should give universities more autonomy, change the system of their financing and accreditation, and introduce several new fees such as for recognizing degrees earned abroad. The reform will also allow universities to hire experts without the otherwise required academic ranks. The draft reform will now be discussed by university officials. If eventually approved by lawmakers, it could enter into force by mid 2015.
The Czech Government on Wednesday approved a controversial bill on the Šumava National Park. The draft legislation would, among other things, change the park zones and allow logging in places where it is now prohibited. The bill would also relax the rules for building skiing resorts and hotels. While the Environment Ministry believes the bill would provide better protection for the park against the bark beetle, but critics says it would in effect expose the park’s most precious areas to developers and logging firms.
Czech President Miloš Zeman told a German regional daily Passauer Neue Presse in an interview published on Saturday that he imagined the Czech Republic could adopt the European currency and join the euro zone within the next five years. The position is a departure from that of his predecessor Václav Klaus. In the interview, the president also said he was against Turkey’s joining the EU; by contrast, he suggested that Russia could join over the next 20 years. Discussing EU foreign policy priorities, Mr Zeman stressed the importance of combating terrorism (including Islamic terrorism), an area where he would like to see the Czech Republic play a greater part.
A Prague municipal court ruled for the plaintiff on Thursday in the first of thousands of ongoing court cases against banks and lending institutions. Michal Novák will receive 4,200 crowns from Hypoteční banka as compensation for being charged a maintenance fee for his loan account. Around 130 thousand clients have filed similar charges against major financial institutions from which they had taken out loans or mortgages and this decision may serve as a precedent for upcoming trials.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas is on a one-day working visit to Finland. He is scheduled to meet with his Finnish counterpart Jyrki Katainen and will be received by President Sauli Niinisto. On Friday morning the Czech prime minister addressed the Czech-Finnish Business Forum at a meeting of the European Democratic Union, an alliance of European conservative parties. Finland is an important trading partner for the export-dependent Czech economy, with a stable interest in Czech engineering products and Škoda cars. The Czech side is hoping to raise its traditional export commodities and is seeking new business opportunities in the fields of infrastructure and power production.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott