Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas met with his British counterpart on Thursday in London to discuss a joint stance ahead of the EU summit that started in Brussels on Thursday evening. The two prime ministers travelled to Brussels together by train. Both countries will be pushing for an effort to further deepen the common market at the summit, where 25 out of 27 EU countries will sign a new fiscal compact on Friday. The United Kingdom and the Czech Republic are the only two member states to not sign the compact, which is designed to stabilize the euro and bind governments towards fiscal responsibility. However, Mr. Nečas noted that the door remained open for future Czech agreement and has denied that not signing the compact at this point would isolate his country.
In related news, Mr. Nečas said ahead of the start of the summit that the fiscal compact is less important than a stronger European effort to create a single market, which would increase the EU’s ability to compete. He added that he would discuss these two points at the summit. The Czech Republic has joined an initiative of over ten countries aimed at supporting a single market, which the Czech prime minister has said is “the only way to boost the European economy.”
Former MP and current director of the law academy Kroměříž, Zdeněk Koudelka, will be running for the office of judge at the Constitutional Court. He announced his candidacy at a news conference on Thursday after a meeting with Czech President Václav Klaus. The president said Mr. Koudelka was a great choice for the post and that his knowledge of constitutional law was impressive. The Senate will now have to approve the president’s pick for the office. In December, Mr. Klaus had suggested the head of Prague’s city court, Jan Sváček, for the post; however, the upper chamber of Parliament turned down his choice.
A fresh study by the Interior Ministry concludes that there are over 4000 militant right-wing extremists in the Czech Republic. According to experts, some 400 individuals make up the hard core of the right-wing extremist scene, which due to its propensity to violence is a long-term threat to society. The study also predicts an increase in attacks on Czech citizens of Romany ethnicity over the next five years. Several experts worked on the study, which was led by sociologist Miroslav Mareš. It recommends taking preventive measures in schools to prevent extremism spreading among young people.
The Senate has called on Czech President Václav Klaus to sign an amendment to the European Social Charter without further delay. The amendment to the charter, which had been passed by both chambers of Parliament in 2003, paves the way for filing collective complaints with the European Council in cases where social rights are infringed upon. The opposition Social Democrats, who have a majority in the upper chamber of Parliament, have announced that they are prepared to take the matter to the Constitutional Court should the president continue refusing to sign the document. Mr. Klaus has been criticized for delaying the ratification of the social charter amendment for years and some senators have charged that he is failing to meet the constitutional obligations of his post.
The current Czech government is quickly loosing public approval and was given ratings that rank it among the worst cabinets in the country’s recent history in a fresh poll by the Czech Public Opinion Research Center. According to the survey, 83 percent of respondents are not satisfied with the personnel in Petr Nečas’s government. The actual work of the government and its communication with the public were rated as unsatisfying by 79 and 77 percent of those polled, respectively. Last year, a similar poll revealed that 51 percent of the public did not approve of the government’s policies; this year’s result puts the number of those unsatisfied with government measures at 59 percent.
The number of people who have reached retirement age but continue working is on the rise in the Czech Republic. According to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday, their number grew by 11,000 as compared to the previous year. About 157,000 Czechs are working despite the fact that they have reached retirement age. According to experts, the Czech labor market needs at least some older people to remain in the workforce due to the demographic of the country. One in twelve senior citizens over the age of 65 is still working, accounting for 1.5 percent of the labor force.
A memorial event took place on Wednesday at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London to remember the late Czech president Václav Havel. The event was organized by the Czech Ambassador to the United Kingdom Michael Žantovský and was attended by around 300 dignitaries including Prince Charles and the visiting Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas. At the event, numerous presentations took place including music performances, documentary screenings and readings by the actor Jeremy Irons of Havel's letters to his first wife Olga. The British playwright Tom Stoppard was also in attendance.
According to information from the Austrian news website heute.at, two Czech police officers were shot near the city of Gmünd, in the northwestern part of the country. The two officers were injured during a car chase. They were following a group of criminals who were trying to escape by car and crossed the border into Austria. Austrian and Czech police were able to catch the suspects in Gmünd. The injured officers are currently being treated at hospital; they are not in critical condition.
The Jeseníky Mountain rescue service has called a third-degree avalanche alert, warning skiers not to leave marked skiing trails. The service said that the quick rise of temperatures above zero degrees Celsius presented a serious danger, with instable conditions and an increased risk of avalanches. The alert will remain in place until temperatures drop again; colder conditions below zero are forecast for the weekend.
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