Talks between EU leaders on a draft budget for 2007-2013 have ended in
failure after the United Kingdom rejected a compromise deal on its rebate.
Alongside the UK, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and Finland also rejected
the draft. This was despite attempts by three of the new EU members,
Poland, Hungary and Lithuania, to save the deal by giving up some of their
own budget demands. The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek backed the
attempt, saying that such sacrifices would have been worthwhile. The EU
President Jean Claude Juncker said that the EU was now in deep crisis, but
the Czech prime minister was less drastic, saying that he was convinced an
agreement would be reached sooner or later. He blamed the failure of the
talks on the inability of the union to come to terms with its own
At the summit leaders did agree to a common stance on the ratification of the European constitution, following its rejection by France and the Netherlands. Delegates agreed not to stop the ratification process altogether, but instead to postpone the deadline. The Czech prime minister said that he would favour the end of next year as a suitable date for the Czech Republic to attempt to ratify the treaty. On Saturday afternoon leaders of the three parties in the Czech government met to discuss their future stance on the ratification process.
Two people were been killed on Saturday when a train struck a car at a level crossing near Trebic in the east of the country. The accident occurred at a crossing without a barrier, and is the latest in a series of similar accidents in recent years that have called into question the safety of such crossings. An investigation is under way.
Meanwhile the agency STEM has released a poll suggesting that nearly 60 percent of Czechs would vote against the EU constitution, were a referendum to be held in the Czech Republic. The poll points to a significant fall in support for the treaty since the "No" votes in France and the Netherlands. In previous polls a firm majority was in favour of the constitution.
The actress Dagmar Havlova, whose husband is the former President Vaclav Havel, is to return to the stage, eight years after she gave up her career to take on the role of the Czech Republic's "first lady". The artistic director of Prague's Vinohrady Theatre said that she would have the main part in a Czech production of a work by the popular American playwright Israel Horovitz. Before her marriage to President Havel, Dagmar Havlova was best known for her roles in a string of popular films from the 1970s and 80s.
In terms of Czech reaction Radio Prague spoke with Czech Prime Minister
Jiri Paroubek: the Czech delegation in Brussels has been pushing for an
agreement and the prime minister has said difficulties were hardly
unexpected in such important talks.
"I'll say it with an example from history: [even] the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, after 1870, had budget talks every 10 years and it was always a 'crisis'. It's a normal thing: when we talk about the budget it's not easy."
Meanwhile, there are indications that the proposed EU constitution - put on something of a hold on Thursday - would not be approved by the majority of Czechs if a referendum were held in the Czech Republic today. That news comes according to a poll freshly released by the STEM agency suggesting that on 42 percent of voters would decide in favour, while 58 percent would decide against. According to pollsters the number of those in favour has dropped following "No" votes in France and the Netherlands cast the future of the treaty in doubt. Previously, around 60 percent of Czechs supported the treaty.
Czech striker Milan Baros has decided to stay on at his club FC Liverpool, fresh champions of this year's Champions League. French club Lyon had offered 15 million euros for the player, who was the most successful forward at Euro 2004. But, the player's agent said Baros preferred stay on in the English league. Baros is not expected to have it easy: last season his relationship with Spanish head coach Rafael Benitez was strained, and the coach has already indicated a preference for two strikers up front, most likely Morientes and Cisse.
Leaders in negotiations at the European Union summit in Brussels have remained deadlocked at talks over the EU's long-term budget. At stake is the union's budget framework for the years 2007 - 2013. Outstanding issues that have come to the forefront include the future of the United Kingdom's budget rebate measured against farm subsidies. Diplomats have been saying that the prospect of a deal looks uncertain. Leaders have yet to decide whether it is worth continuing talks on Friday; some - like Sweden's prime minister - have recommended it would be better if a final decision on the budget were put off until 2006.
The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, also in Brussels, has also
reacted, saying that a failure to reach a deal on Friday could have a
negative impact on new EU member states.
"If there is no deal today it could be difficult for the new member states. But, still, I believe that we are 'sitting at the same table'. I believe we have to reach a consensus on the financial proposal. And, if the proposal is against the new member states, then well we will say 'No'."
The foreign minister said that the Visegrad countries, of which the Czech Republic is a part, were more or less sticking together on a number of issues:
"There are some slight, differences, definitely: from the macro-economic point of view agriculture is currently not as important, but politically yes, politically definitely. Generally speaking we stick together."