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Breakfast Brief – 7 May 2009

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Table of Contents

Lisbon gets green light from Czech Senate
Czech senators, including 12 Civic Democrats (ODS), yesterday approved the Lisbon Treaty. A group of opponents said they would take the treaty to the Constitutional Court again. President Václav Klaus called the vote a “failure of political elites” and said he would not sign the treaty until the court ruled. MP Alena Páralová quit the ODS in protest of the vote.
most Czech press

Canada might reintroduce visas for Czechs
Canada might re-evaluate its visa policy toward the Czech Republic if there is no decrease in the number of asylum applications from Czechs, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in Prague yesterday. Some 653 Czechs applied for asylum in the first quarter of 2009, while for the whole of last year there were only about 850 applications.
most Czech press

Experts: President obliged to sign Lisbon Treaty
Constitutional law experts quoted by ČTK say President Václav Klaus is obliged to sign the Lisbon Treaty after it was approved by both chambers of parliament, though he is entitled to wait on the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the document. If the court rules in favour of the treaty, the president must sign it. They add, however, there is no deadline and no one can force the president to act.

Czech Senate wants say in EU integration
Under legislation passed by the Senate yesterday, both houses of parliament will have to approve any handover of power from Prague to Brussels.

Motejl: Freedom of information still limited
Ombudsman Otakar Motejl says Czech citizens are still in an inferior position when dealing with authorities because authorities often deny them access to information without sufficient grounds.

Ethnic TV to launch in ČR
A new satellite TV station targeted at minorities in the Czech Republic, Ethnic TV, will launch trial broadcasting next Thursday. The channel will initially broadcast in Vietnamese.

Poll: Roma most disliked minority in ČR
A CVVM survey shows that 77% of Czechs dislike the Roma, making them the least popular ethnic or national minority.

Ministers give nurses pay rise
On its last meeting yesterday, the outgoing Topolánek cabinet approved a CZK 1 billion spending package to increase hospital nurses’ salaries by 15% from 1 July.

Poll: Most Czechs oppose Prague Olympics
Some 60% of Czechs oppose plans to hold the 2020 Olympic Games in Prague, according to a STEM survey. Half of those polled want a referendum on the issue.

PIM runners to be monitored by Google
Google, in co-operation with the Czech internet company Inmite, has created a system that will monitor runners’ average speeds and positions during the Prague International Marathon on Sunday. Police advise Prague residents and visitors to take the metro on Sunday as surface transport in the city centre will be curtailed by the race.
HN 19, ČTK

EU-US summit postponed until autumn
After an agreement between the White House and the Czech EU presidency, the EU-US summit planned for the end of June in Washington was postponed until autumn when the Swedes take over the EU presidency.
HN 5

ČR dispute with Nomura ends after eight years
A legal dispute with the Japanese investment company Nomura over the failed IPB bank, which had gone on for eight years, is now over. Outgoing Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek yesterday signed agreements regarding the buyout of claims in the IPB case, meaning the country no longer faces arbitration claims that could have amounted to as much as CZK 120 billion.
most Czech press

Car sales rise in April, reverse previous declines
Czech dealers sold 48,667 new passenger cars this year through April, 1.8% more than a year ago, as higher sales in April reversed declines of the previous months. New legislation allowing firms to buy passenger cars tax-free is credited for the recovery. Škoda Auto sales dropped over 14% to 12,791 vehicles; Ford soared 36% to 4,413 and Renault spiked 20% to 3,556 cars.
most Czech press

NWR shares rise 50% in a week
Shares in mining company New World Resources (NWR) rose yesterday by a one-day trading record of 21.7% to CZK 114.49 and have increased by more than 50% in the past week. Part of the growth is attributed to rising coal prices on world markets.
HN 22

Bakala buys top Czech logistics firm
Coal tycoon Zdeněk Bakala’s freight group, OKD Doprava, is taking over Čechofracht, the largest provider of logistics services in the Czech Republic.
E15 8, HN 15, Právo 17

Fischer wants to cap deficit at 5% of GDP
Caretaker PM Jan Fischer told public radio yesterday that next year’s public finance deficit would be around CZK 150 billion, or some 5% of GDP. He said any larger deficit would mean the country is “asking for huge trouble in the following years”.

ILO jobless rate up at 5.8% in Q1
The Czech ILO (International Labour Organisation) unemployment rate grew to 5.8% in the first quarter of 2009, the ČSÚ said yesterday. The Labour Ministry, which uses a different methodology, says 7.7% are out of work.
HN 16, LN 15

Draft energy policy pushes nuclear and coal
A draft national energy policy would increase the use of nuclear energy and expand coal mining to areas that are currently off-limits, outgoing Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman said yesterday.

Passerinvest to pay Prague 11 CZK 230m
The development company Passerinvest and Prague 11 have signed a contract that binds the developer to paying CZK 230 million to support construction of the Roztyly Garden project of flats and offices. The district plans to use the money to develop infrastructure and public facilities, including an aquapark.
E15 10, 11

Court: Landlords can fight rent control
Some owners of rent-controlled housing have the right to sue the state over restrictions on their ownership rights, the Constitutional Court has ruled.

EU pens ‘open skies’ deal with Canada
As part of an EU-Canada summit that started yesterday in Prague, the two parties signed an “open skies” agreement to increase competition on transatlantic routes and allow for EU investment in Canadian airlines and vice versa. Czech PM Mirek Topolánek expressed hope the EU would reach a free trade agreement with Canada within less than two years.

Lumius boosts stake in Czech power market
Central European electricity and natural gas trader Lumius acquired majority stake in Czech competitor Českomoravská energetická as of 1 May.

ČR has one of longest work weeks in EU
Czechs work an average of 38 hours a week in their primary job, the fifth-highest figure in the EU after Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Greece, according to Eurostat and ČSÚ figures.
Právo 14

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