The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that the current debate on the future of the euro must not cast doubt on Czech plans to join the single currency by 2010. He stressed that even the prospect of joining the euro is beneficial for the country's economy, for instance by helping to reduce the deficit in public finances. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka likewise stressed that the euro was a successful project and that plans to join the single currency should remain on track. Although analysts say there is no economic reason for the euro-zone to break up, some have advised putting off euro adoption beyond 2010.
The Czech army wants to put its state-of-the-art Vera radar system at the disposal of NATO from the beginning of next year, according to the defence ministry's press department. The mobile system is able to discover the presence of a different radar system and determine its type without being revealed. It can monitor up to 200 planes simultaneously and is able to define the distance and altitude of any target with great accuracy.
The Czech Republic's foreign trade balance showed a surplus of 5.1 billion crowns /168.8 million euros/ in April, showing the largest year-on-year growth in its 12 year history. Year on year the surplus grew by 16 billion crowns, from a 10.9 billion deficit in April 2004, the Czech Statistical Office said. The main reasons were an improved balance in trade in machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and related products and manufactured goods classified mainly by material.
The rejection of the EU Constitution by France and the Netherlands has resulted in a higher number of Czech Euro-sceptics. According to the results of an opinion survey conducted by the FACTUM polling agency in the wake of the French and Dutch rejections, the number of Czechs who would vote against the EU Constitution /33.7 percent/ is now slightly higher than the number of its supporters /31.5 percent/. The biggest camp however is made up of people who are as yet undecided /34.8percent/.
EU border controls should be lifted for Czechs in late 2007, when Brussels plans to extend the Schengen area to the new member states, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said following a meeting with his counterparts from the EU, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. The ministers discussed the introduction of a new generation of the Schengen information system SISII the launch of which, in the spring of 2007, is a necessary condition for expansion.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus, on an official visit to Finland, has expressed a difference of opinion with his Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonenon over the EU constitution treaty. In a joint news conference on Thursday, Mr Klaus said he was happy, referring to the treaty's rejection in the Netherlands in Wednesday's referendum vote. Mr Klaus called the referendum results "a victory for freedom and democracy in Europe". The Finnish president disagreed, saying she regretted the result. The Czech Republic's president is the only European head of state to express opposition to the EU constitution treaty.
The Prague Castle steps will see an exhibition race by world class mountain bikers next week, including Olympic Gold medal winner in Sydney 2000, Frenchman Miguel Martinez. 50 racers are expected to take part. The race, which features a 1,200 metre circuit, includes a descent of 189 Castle steps, and a climbing section with an incline of 12 percent in Prague's Mala Strana (Little Quarter).
The government's Economic Growth Strategy paper, drafted by a team of
experts led by the Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Martin Jahn,
has suggested the Czech Republic could abolish its forced retirement
age, allowing people to retire according to their own will and
projected pensions. In 2015, there should be seven percent fewer people
in productive age than present. The Czech population is aging and many
analysts say the current system of funding pensions cannot be upheld.
According to the strategy paper, early retirement conditions could be toughened. Half of all of those currently unemployed are aged between 55 and 64 and the current system does not motivate them to look for jobs. In addition, it is difficult for the older people to find work. The report recommends that the state should therefore concentrate on the education of people over 45 as motivation to remain in the work force.
Police have charged a tram driver with endangering the public in connection with an accident that claimed the lives of two pedestrians in March. The driver's streetcar jumped the rails at Prague's Charles Square killing two and injuring three others who were unable to get out of the way in time. Police say the driver was driving too fast. If found guilty he could face up to 10 years in prison.