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Breakfast Brief – 13 May 2009

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Table of Contents

Fischer wants Lisbon Treaty ratified
New Czech PM Jan Fischer told journalists yesterday after meeting with EC President José Barroso he wished the Czech Republic had already ratified the Lisbon Treaty. Fischer said it would be up to Czech President Václav Klaus to sign the document once ratification is complete because the constitution does not specify a time limit for the president to sign a bill. A group of ODS senators is preparing to file a complaint against the treaty with the Czech Constitutional Court.
MfD A1, A2, ČTK

Fischer visits Brussels, wants to lead EU summit
New Prime Minister Jan Fischer yesterday travelled to Brussels for his first foreign visit and met with the president of the European Commission, José Barroso, and foreign policy head Javier Solana. Fisher indicated that he, not President Václav Klaus, would host the upcoming EU leaders’ summit in Prague.
most Czech press

ČSSD election programme promises big benefits, higher taxes
Mladá fronta Dnes has got hold of a ČSSD election programme that promises higher bonuses for the first and second-born children, maternity leave of up to seven years and a guaranteed minimum pension. ČSSD would assess higher taxes on companies and individuals earning more than CZK 100,000 a month. The deputy chairman of the party, Zdeněk Škromach, said the proposals would cost some CZK 15 billion a year.
MfD A1, A2

ČSSD lists conditions for supporting government
The ČSSD has compiled a list of 21 conditions that the cabinet must fulfil if it is to gain the support of the Chamber of Deputies, Czech TV reported yesterday. One of the conditions is that the privatisation of Czech Airport be stopped.

Topolánek likely to seek southern Moravian seat in general election
ODS leader and former PM Mirek Topolánek will likely run for a seat in parliament to represent the South Moravia region in the upcoming early election in October, reported yesterday.
LN 1, 3

ODS supporters stage concert for Topolánek
Hundreds of Czechs attended a concert yesterday at Můstek in central Prague to show support for ODS leader and former PM Mirek Topolánek. Supporters carried signs with slogans such as “Fight, Mirek!” and “We want you in the government”.

Topolánek: Dealing with Sarkozy difficult
Former Czech PM Mirek Topolánek said yesterday the Czech EU presidency was affected by his complicated relationship with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. On the other hand, he said, dealing with European Commission President José Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was easier.

Fifteen Czechs waiting on swine flu test
Czech doctors have ruled out swine flu in 63 suspected cases, and 15 more people are waiting for the test results. So far, 78 people in the Czech Republic have sought out testing, fearing they may be infected with the flu.

CZK 444,000 donated to Roma arson victims
Public donations to help a Roma family from Vítkov whose house burnt down in an arson attack in April have reached CZK 444,000. The money will be used to help buy housing for the nine-member family.

Anti-Koran stickers appear in Prague metro
Dozens of stickers condemning the Koran that first appeared near a Brno mosque on 10 May have now also turned up in the Prague metro.

Catholic Church files complaint against ruling on Cathedral
The Czech Catholic Church filed a constitutional complaint yesterday against the Supreme Court’s March ruling that St Vitus Cathedral belongs to the state.

Vets find BSE in Czech cow
A cow in the Opava area was found to be infected with mad cow disease (BSE). The animal came from a small stock, all of which will be liquidated in the coming days. This was the second case of BSE in the Czech Republic this year.

RFE/RL opens new headquarters
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty yesterday officially opened its new headquarters in Hagibor, Prague 10. By June, the radio will have moved completely from what used to be the former Federal Assembly building at the top of Wenceslas Square.

Charles University to introduce registration fee
Charles University Rector Václav Hampl told the university will start collecting a CZK 5,000 annual fee from students for signing up for courses. The money would be used for administrative purposes and would be considered apart from any tuition fees the university may have to charge in the future as part of a government-led education reform.
LN 1,4

Alcohol university students’ worst addiction
According to a report released by the Centre of Addictology, Czech university students’ worst addiction is alcohol. Students also tend to be addicted to the internet and computer games.

Unemployment rate reaches 7.9%
Almost 8,000 more unemployed workers were registered in April, bringing the total to 456,000, or an unemployment rate of 7.9%. Raiffeisenbank analyst Helena Horská expects the rate to rise 9% by the end of the year and that 500,000 people will be out of work.
most Czech press

E15: Kellner, Generali could gain majority stake in Ingostrakh
A new joint holding company, PPF Generali Holding, between Petr Kellner’s PPF and the Italian insurer Generali could help PPF control a majority stake in the Russian insurance company Ingostrakh, owned by Oleg Deripaska, the daily E15 reports. The Russian financier is now facing financial problems stemming from the economic crisis and is negotiating to sell part of its majority stake to Generali. E15 reports the holding company would bring together the current minority stake in Ingostrakh held by PPF Investments and the future stake to be acquired by Generali.
E15 1, 8

Monopoly office: ČD must pay CZK 254m fine
The antimonopoly office (ÚOHS) has levied a record fine of CZK 254 million against Czech Railways (ČD) for abusing its dominant position on the freight market. ÚOHS claims ČD favoured some clients over others and prevented competition. ČD intends to file a suit against the ruling.
most Czech press

Environment Ministry says brown coal mined without assessment
The biggest Czech brown coal miner, Severočeské doly, is mining in the Nástup Tušimice mine near Chomutov without an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), the Environment Ministry said. The company and the mine administration office in Most maintain the area has been assessed and no problems found. The majority of the coal from the mine goes to power plants run by ČEZ, the sole owner of Severočeské doly since 2006.
HN 17

Household appliance sales drop despite scrapping bonus
Retailers report that sales of household appliances and electronic goods fell 9% last year, with only LCD and plasma TVs preventing the numbers from plunging even more. Not even a scrapping bonus for white goods introduced by ČEZ in April has triggered a rise in demand. Retailers expect sales to fall even further later in the year.
HN 1, 15

ČEZ possibly cheated out of tens of millions
The energy company ČEZ may have lost tens of millions of crowns after two fraudsters illegally tampered with electricity metres, promising to reduce electricity bills for various businesses. The police estimate the damages so far at CZK 4 million. If convicted, the pair could face two to eight years in prison.

Avia returns to five-day work week
Letňany-based lorry producer Avia has returned to a five-day production week, reported yesterday. The company had earlier cut production to three and four days a week due to falling demand.

Smart internet radio Musiline to be launched in ČR
The media company Lagardére Active ČR will launch a smart internet radio project, Musiline, next week via the website The users will be able to programme their own radio, similar to the British project
E15 8, LN 16

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