“Nothing can be ruled out completely,” says Otmar Issing, German professor of economics and a member of the European Central Bank governing board. “But it will not happen, the euro will not disappear. The costs would be enormous and countries would lose on that in the end.” Issing knows what he’s talking about. His book about the future of the euro is regarded as the best piece of work of its kind. But Issing admits that many things have turned the wrong way up since the book came out nearly a year ago. There are even unofficial opinions in Brussels saying that some countries might want to leave the eurozone. “This is indisputably the most difficult moment since the euroContinue Reading

And some water please. “With bubbles or without?” the grocer Jaroušek always used to ask. These days there are many more questions to be asked abut products we buy. Shopping has become a science as well as a platform for fighting for one’s rights. The most recent issue of Respekt has an article about coffee. There are so many decisions a Czech consumer today must make about his cup of coffee: Traditional Czech “Turkish” coffee or espresso? Large or small? This brand or that brand? (Because one type will be a darker and another a lighter roast, and some will have a more robusta or more arabica.) Like in good shops in London or Paris, good shops in Prague nowContinue Reading

One could bet one’s own salary on it. A female minister is ending in the cabinet – evidence that women do not fit into politics, unpredictable female deputies have a hold over the government – and here you have it again, they are simply not genetically equipped for it. On the weekend, the Social Democrats did not succeed in electing a vice-chairwoman as set by the party statutes, and this time the quotas were to pay for it – a tool that political parties normally use to help women in politics. But it is not like that at all. The Social Democratic embarrassment is not proof that quotas do not work. The incumbent vice-chairwoman and at first the only candidateContinue Reading

Poor pensioners who worried about their higher and higher rents can now breath a sigh of relief. The government took a neutral stance on the parliament-proposed plan to slow down rent deregulation, which in practice means that MPs will pass it. But ministers do not deserve much applause for their social feeling. In fact, their sluggishness means failure. A failure for people who wanted to move for work, a failure for house owners, but also for the tenants themselves who will have to deal with the problem again sometime in the future. And we’ll probably witness an epilogue at the court in Strasbourg. House owners suing the Czech Republic now have another argument why to demand dozens of billions inContinue Reading

From the very beginning, the Czech presidency had to deal with the burden of “2G” – the two crises: Gaza and gas. The bombing of Israel and the couner strike in the Gaza strip, as well as the interrupted supplies of Russian gas via Ukraine required an immediate reaction. In both cases, the Czech presidency, together with the European Commission and backed by EU countries, launched diplomatic missions in the Middle East and in Kiev and Moscow. The rapid reaction of the Czech government was to a great extent enabled not only by its geographical location and historical experience, but also by the main presidency priority – we have called energy security a top priority long before 1 January despiteContinue Reading