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Breakfast Brief – 14 October 2009

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Table of Contents

Barroso appeals to Klaus
At a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Jan Fischer in Brussels, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that, if the Czech Constitutional Court rules in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, there should be no more “artificial obstacles” and emphasised that President Václav Klaus was elected by a Parliament that had already ratified the agreement and so he should respect that decision. Barroso also warned that, if the treaty is not signed, the Czech Republic and other EU countries might lose their European Commissioners.
Source: LN 1, 2, Právo 1, 2

Topolánek: Klaus will sign Lisbon
ODS Chairman Mirek Topolánek said in an interview for Rádio Impuls yesterday that President Václav Klaus will sign the Lisbon Treaty. Topolánek said that if Klaus truly does not want to sign the Lisbon Treaty, he will abdicate, re-enter politics and go up for election, which Topolánek doesn’t expect the president to do. Klaus’s secretary, Ladislav Jakl, told Czech Radio that the president can’t promise that he will sign the Lisbon Treaty as the approval of his amendment to it hasn’t been guaranteed. The Constitutional Court will discuss senators’ proposal for a re-evaluation of the Lisbon Treaty’s legality on 27 October.
Source: most Czech press

Topolánek: ODS congress visionary not electoral
ODS Chairman Mirek Topolánek said yesterday that he doesn’t want the November party congress to serve as a voting ground to electing Civic Democrat leaders and members but rather as a base for discussing long-term vision and policy.
Source: ČTK

Poll: Good chunk of public blames parties for constitutional crisis
A survey by Factum Invenio revealed that 42% of the public considers political factions’ inability to agree on constitutional reform to be a key factor in the ongoing constitutional crisis.
Source: ČTK

Prague controversial land projects
The City Council’s advisory board decided to postpone a number of criticised projects in its land plan yesterday. Projects include the reconstruction of Masarykovo nádraží and the Smíchov and Žižkov train stations. The councillor in charge of regional development, Martin Langmajer, said that projects have been postponed until district councils can clarify what the improved areas will be used for.
Source: most Czech press

City official to propose gambling law changes
Prague Deputy Mayor Rudolf Blažek said yesterday that he will submit a proposal to council representatives next week, then to the cabinet and parliament, to amend lottery regulations to enable municipalities to ban video gaming devices. Video lottery terminals are currently under the Finance Ministry’s control. Since the beginning of 2008, 3,000 VLTs have been installed in Prague.
Source: ČTK

HN: Millions from gambling vanish through unknown associations
Each year, lottery companies send hundreds of millions of crowns to unknown charities listed by the Finance Ministry, which should operate as a watchdog over income from gambling, Hospodářské noviny reports. Last year the unknown civic association Astrilux Ideal received CZK 27 million for public benefit projects, most of which were transferred to unspecified works in Africa. The Finance Ministry announced that the money flow is hard to follow and control and is preparing new laws to increase transparency.
Source: HN 1-3

Poll: NKÚ ranks as least-trusted audit institution
A survey by STEM showed that, choosing among the three audit organs in the country, the public has the lowest amount of confidence in the Supreme Audit Office. A record-low 53% of the population trusted NKÚ in September – almost 20 percentage points lower than in February.
Source: ČTK

ČR ranks poorly in HIV care
According to the Euro HIV Index (EHIVI) by Health Consumer Powerhouse, the Czech Republic ranks 17th out of the 29 polled countries in the quality of care for AIDS and HIV-positive patients. Luxembourg, Malta and Switzerland were the top three.
Source: ČTK

Official research into sex workers dropped
Without providing reasons, Labour Ministry spokeswoman Štěpánka Filipová said yesterday that the agency cancelled its plans to map in detail prostitution in the country. The study to steer social strategy and, possibly, legislation was to be the first of its kind.
Source: ČTK

LN smokes out Plzeň uni’s vice-dean as an academic cheat
After a go out explaining away his dirt dissertation, Ivan Tomažič, of the embattled University of West Bohemia’s law faculty, has at last admitted that the work was mere plagiarism. At first, he had said that he created his controversial dissertation in 2005 by plagiarising colleagues’ texts to test their claims that they would recognise their own work. The dissertation, which Lidové noviny discovered in the university’s library three weeks ago, got there by mistake, Tomažič said in a September statement to the dean of the University of West Bohemia. In related news, Milan Kindl, another player in the academic scandals that have plagued the school, has announced that he will leave the university completely at the end of the month. Kindl has already stepped down as faculty vice-dean.
Source: Tý, ČTK, LN 1, 4

Sterilised mother loses suit
A court ruled yesterday that Renata Horáčková, a mother of four who had her tubes tied only to give birth to her fifth healthy child, is not entitled to compensation. Judge Ludmila Říhová said that it cannot be ruled that the “birth of a child is an illegitimate intervention into privacy” and added that argument would be in “conflict with good morals”.
Source: HN 1, 5

17 November 1989 march reprise
The Opona organisation is planning a commemorative procession to mark the events of 17 November 1989. The march will start at 3pm at Albertov and end on Národní třída, where, instead of police intervention, there will be a big beat concert. Opona has already spoken to 500 of the 15,000 people that took place in the 1989 march.
Source: MfD A1, A3

Czech-Austrian pact to counter spread of bark beetle
Environment Minister Ladislav Miko and his Austrian counterpart, Nikolaus Berlakovich, signed an agreement aimed to curb the bark beetle. The pact dictates the monitoring of the border region where the Šumava national park lies, among other measures.
Source: ČTK

New energy concept counts on nuclear, coal mining
Yesterday, Industry and Trade Minister Vladimír Tošovský presented the new state energy concept, which should be the guideline until 2050 if approved by the government. The concept includes the construction of new nuclear blocks, a proposal to open a new uranium mine and build a uranium concentrate plant or to exceed the ecological limits for coal mining.
Source: most Czech press

ČSA board chairman proposes radical staff cuts
Václav Novák, the chairman of Czech Airlines’ supervisory board, proposed yesterday to cut staff by one-third, from 4,500 to 3,000 employees and to cut wages for pilots by 45%. The head of the Czech Airline Pilots Association ČSA, Filip Gaspar, said that pilots are willing to discuss wage cuts of up to 30% if ČSA doesn’t undergo privatisation.
Source: most Czech press

Alta to sign contract in Moscow
E15 reports that, according to a well-informed source, the Brno-based company Alta will sign a contract in the Russian capital during today’s state visit by President Václav Klaus. The deal is to supply about CZK 8.7 billion worth of technology and construction to the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works Company (MMK). Alta spokeswoman Pavla Sluková confirmed the information about the contract, but said that the date of the signing has been changing.
Source: E15 8 , ČTK

EC wants stricter mortgage conditions
The European Commission wants to unify mortgage rules in all EU states. The proposal would grant mortgage loans of up to 40% of the value of a property, while the majority of current mortgages cover between 70% and 80%. With higher mortgages, clients would be bound to much higher interest, the Euractiv website reported. While some Czech bankers cannot imagine such a practice, Jan Sadil, head of Hypoteční banka, said that the new regulation is interpreted wrong as it is aimed to give banks more capital to cover riskier mortgages.
Source: most Czech press

S&T CZ appointed to manage EU subsidies system
The Regional Development Ministry commissioned S&T CZ to run and monitor a system that allocates EU funding. The contract is worth CZK 158.8 million. In the past, Libor Ježek, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies’ control committee, has criticised the state for managing the system and using its software illegally.
Source: ČTK

ČEZ drop knocks down PSE
The Prague Stock Exchange fell 1.7% due to a decrease in the value of ČEZ shares that happened after the Dutch bank ING posted a surprising recommendation to sell and set a target price of CZK 805. ING announced that the growth in the price of ČEZ shares over the last six months was excessive and that the company’s profit next year should stagnate. Yesterday, the PSE was close to breaking its maximum, which now amounts to 34 points or 2.6% growth.
Source: HN 27, E15 16, 17

Environment Ministry to sell 3.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions
Environment Minister Ladislav Miko signed a contract with Austria yesterday for the sale of 3.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions, ministry spokesman Jakub Kašpar said. The acquired financial resources will be invested into the programme Zelená úsporám (green light to savings), which helps the public make homes more energy-efficient via subsidies.
Source: ČTK

Grape yield falls to half of last year’s
According to the head of the wine fund, Jaroslav Machovec, this year’s grape crop stands at half of 2008’s, due to rainy weather in spring and an unusually warm August and September. The quality of the grapes is above average, though.
Source: ČTK

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