The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, says he believes the European Union’s Lisbon treaty may remain unchanged, despite calls for modification of the bloc’s budgetary rules. At a two-day summit in Brussels EU leaders asked the president of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, to prepare by December changes to the document aimed at shoring up Europe’s defences against any future financial crises. However, Mr Nečas said he did not rule out the possibility the Lisbon treaty would remain as it was. He said he favoured introducing crisis management mechanisms without actually amending the treaty.
The Czech delegation to the summit also joined ten other states including Germany, France and the United Kingdom in protesting a proposed 5.9 percent increase in the EU budget in 2011. Prime Minister Nečas pointed out that at a time when savings were being made, it was not possible for the bloc to live as if it were on an isolated island, without regard to the fact cuts were being implemented elsewhere. The summit eventually agreed on a 2.9 percent limit on the EU budget increase, but tough negotiations are expected with the European Parliament, which voted for a 5.9% rise. If no deal is reached by mid-November the 2011 budget will be frozen at the 2010 level.
Lower house speaker Miroslava Němcová on Friday declared a state of legislative emergency from November 1-15, allowing government reform bills to be fast-tracked though the lower chamber. In the course of that fortnight the centre-right coalition hopes to push through the lower chamber four bills which form the backbone of its austerity plans for 2011. Prime Minister Petr Nečas requested a state of legislative emergency following the Social Democrats victory in last week’s Senate elections, which will give the opposition the power to delay the government’s reform plans.
The Chamber of Deputies on Friday passed a bill intended to reign in a boom in subsidized solar power. The government envisages continued state support for solar panels for home-use, but wants to tax solar power subsidies for commercial use and increase charges for land leased for solar panels. The unexpected boom in subsidized solar power has resulted in a steep rise in electricity prices, with a predicted rise of 12 percent for households and 17 percent for firms next year. The government is hoping that by effectively cutting back on subsidies, it can significantly curb the predicted rise in electricity prices. The bill will now go to the Senate.
The opposition Social Democrats on Friday prevented the coalition from fast-tracking a proposal on a 5 percent wage cut for constitutional officials through the lower house. The Social Democrats were against the bill being approved in one reading and sent to the Senate, insisting on a standard procedure of three readings in the chamber of deputies, to give them time to table amendments. The proposal, which would have see constitutional official’s wages cut by 5 percent and frozen until 2014 was made as a gesture of solidarity with public sector employees who face a 10 percent wage cut in 2011.
German and Austrian hospitals are holding a job fair in Prague over the weekend, offering qualified Czech hospital staff significantly higher salaries and better work conditions than they can hope to get in the Czech Republic. The fair comes at a time when many Czech doctors and nurses are actively seeking jobs abroad, fearing that their pay and work conditions will further deteriorate as a result of the government’s austerity plans. Since September more than 3,500 doctors have signed a petition saying they would resign by the end of the year if the government did not increase salaries in state-owned hospitals and clinics.
President Klaus is to pay a three-day working visit to Kuwait at the start of next week. He is to be received by the Emir of Kuwait, meet with government and parliament officials and address a local business forum. The main focus of the visit is to boost trade and investment opportunities which have seen a decline in recent years. The last state visit to Kuwait by then president Havel took place in 2001.
The Prague School of Economics is the best business school in Central and Eastern Europe, according to an evaluation by Eduniversal, an independent expert commission surveying more than 1,000 business schools and universities worldwide. The evaluating criteria include the school's reputation, the quality of its lecturers, student satisfaction and placement following graduation, awards received by the school, and membership in various international networks and organisations.
An inspection of over a hundred Czech companies has revealed more than 270 illegal workers from non-EU member states, the CTK news agency reported on Friday. Most of them were employed by construction companies, hotels and services. The companies in question face high fines and the illegal workers extradition.