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Breakfast Brief – 19 October 2009

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Table of Contents

Constitutional Court can start examining Lisbon Treaty
The Constitutional Court announced on Friday that it has collected all of the comments that the court requested in order to analyse whether the Lisbon Treaty is in harmony with the constitution. The public hearing will take place on 27 October. Cabinet sources told ČTK on Friday that the cabinet would accept a public statement by President Václav Klaus that he will sign the treaty after the court’s ruling and the inclusion of an exception concerning the Beneš decrees that president has asked for.
Source: Právo 1, 2 Sat, ČTK

Klaus hints at signing Lisbon; Slovaks want same guarantees
In a Saturday interview with Lidové noviny, President Václav Klaus indirectly admitted that he might ratify the Lisbon Treaty in the end. Klaus said that the ratification process has gone too far to stop it. Slovak PM Robert Fico said to Czech Television on Sunday that Slovakia might ask for the same legal guarantees regarding the Beneš decrees as Klaus has. Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák said later that day that Slovakia would not support the Czech addition to the treaty unless it is valid also for Slovakia.
Source: most Czech press

Global crisis heightens risk of human trafficking
Jana Seidlová, the spokeswoman for La Strada, an NGO tackling human trafficking, said that the Czech Republic remains a source, transit and target country for trafficking. She said that, due to the financial crisis, a greater number of people are at risk of becoming victims.
Source: ČTK

BIS: Sazka influenced Finance Ministry
According to the Security Information Service (BIS), the betting company Sazka has influenced personnel decisions at the Finance Ministry. BIS names the former heads of the state betting control Petr Vrzáň and Michal Morawský, among others. Sazka head Aleš Hušák rejected the allegations. On Friday, former PM Mirek Topolánek, who ordered the BIS investigation, asked the Supreme Audit Office to look into Sazka’s finances and the construction of the Sazka Arena.
Source: most Czech press

Czech Republic will not meet its ‘green’ promise
The Czech Republic will not meet its obligation to increase the share of electricity production from renewable sources to 8% by 2010. The main reason is slow development on the biomass market, according to a joint report by the Industry and Trade Ministry, Environment Ministry and Energy Regulatory Office.
Source: E15 1, 11

Health Minister warns against flu epidemics, gets vaccinated
In order to encourage the general public to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu, Health Minister Dana Jurásková, three deputy ministers and the ČR’s main health officer Michael Vít got themselves vaccinated on Friday. The health minister expects the flu to hit within two to three weeks.
Source: most Czech press

State will inspect all Czech universities
In connection with the recent scandal at the Plzeň Law Faculty, Education Minister Miroslava Kopicová is planning an audit of all public and private universities. A ministry audit at the University of West Bohemia’s Law Faculty will start this week.
Source: HN 1, 5, Právo 1, 3

Two candidates run for dean of Plzeň Law Faculty
Jiří Pospíšil, a former justice minister and the temporary dean of the embattled Plzeň Law Faculty, is up against the Prague lawyer Karol Hrádela as the two candidates for the position of permanent dean, which will be decided on 2 November. Pospíšil confirmed the information that one of the missing dissertation papers was recently added to the university library but is probably a different paper from the one originally submitted. The author of the paper, Jan Kavka, who teaches at the faculty, has been asked to leave.
Source: most Czech press

UNESCO will inspect Blanka tunnel
A UNESCO inspection committee will come to Prague in February or March to examine whether the construction of the new Prague tunnel complex might damage the historical city centre, Jan Kněžínek from the Prague City Council said.
Source: Aktuálně.cz, Pd 1, 2

Scientists say paracetamol decreases infant vaccine effect
Giving medicines containing paracetamol to infants to prevent fever after routine vaccinations may decrease the vaccines’ effects, Czech scientists have reported in a study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. Such medicines have been used after vaccination in developed countries for years.
Source: most Saturday press

Zeman to head new political party
More than 400 fans of the former ČSSD head and ex-PM Miloš Zeman celebrated on Saturday the founding of the new leftwing political party Strana práv občanů (the civil rights party). The party will most likely be headed by Zeman and will take part in the May general elections.
Source: most Czech press

PM: This year’s deficit to reach 6.5% of GDP
On Friday, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said that this year’s public finance deficit should reach 6.5% of GDP. Last year’s deficit reached 2.1% of GDP, and, according to the Finance Minister Eduard Janota, the next year’s deficit should reach 5.5%. The Czech Republic will thus fail to meet the Maastricht criteria for euro introduction.
Source: Právo 9 Sat, ČTK

Pilots’ demands block ČSA restructuring
Eduard Janota and Gustáv Slamečka, the finance and transport ministers, respectively, announced on Friday that the conclusion reached at the general meeting of CZALPA, the Czech Airlines pilots union, is insufficient and disables the execution of the restructuring plan to rejuvenate the company. CZALPA is ready to accept a 15% decrease in pilots’ wages under the condition that half of the various ČSA employee unions agree. Pilots would be willing to accept a higher decrease if it were compensated for by employee shares. Václav Novák, the head of the ČSA board, has proposed a 40% cut in pilots’ wages. It is likely that the company’s supervisory board will remove the current ČSA head, Radomír Lašák, from office today and replace him with Miroslav Dvořák, the head of Ruzyně Airport.
Source: most Czech press

Tý Prime minister wants to have new NERV
At a meeting with entrepreneurs from the Czech-Slovak Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said he would like to re-establish the government’s economic advisory body NERV, which ended its existence in mid-September. Fischer said that he is willing to negotiate the council’s membership with the representatives of the main political parties.
Source: Tý, LN 13 Sat

Pilsner Urquell to cost CZK 1 more
The Plzeňský Prazdroj group announced on Friday that it will increase the price of one-fifth of its beer as of November. Half a litre of Pilsner Urquell on tap will now sell to restaurants, cafes and pubs for CZK 20.90, an increase of CZK 1. The prices of both of the group’s11-degree beers, Velkopopovický Kozel and Gambrinus’s Excelent, as well as the nonalcoholic Radegast Birell will also rise. The prices of Gambrinus’s 10- and 12-degree versions will remain unchanged. The Humpolec-based family brewery Bernard is also planning to increase prices, but has not announced when or by how much.
Source: Právo 1 Sat, E15 9, HN 20, ČTK

Czech Railways to lay off 450 people
Czech Railways is planning to lay off 450 employees by mid-December, deputy CEO Antonín Blažek told Mf Dnes. The company also hopes to save some CZK 700 million by cutting expenses and selling some of its property, including old carriages.
Source: MfD A9 Sat

GTS Travel in trouble
GTS Travel, a provider of cheap air tickets, tourist packages and other types of trips abroad, is going through serious problems. HN reports that the firm has lost its license from the International Air Transport Association to sell tickets, and some business partners, such as the Eurolines bus company, have ended their co-operation with the firm due to its debts.
Source: HN 1, 17

Sudden onset of winter caused insurance damage
A ČTK survey of the largest local insurance companies shows that the sudden onset of winter caused damage worth dozens of millions of crowns. The majority of claims were caused by damage to cars and buildings. Česká pojišťovna has recorded more than 1,000 requests for compensation, a significant increase compared to previous years.
Source: ČTK

Doosan will take over Škoda Power
The antimonopoly office approved on Friday the takeover of the turbine producer Škoda Power by the South Korean Doosan Heavy Industries. The price of the transaction, which should be concluded by the end of the year, is CZK 11.5 billion. The Reuters news agency estimates that the transaction will increase revenue by some CZK 75 billion by 2020.
Source: ČTK

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