The European Commission has issued a final warning to three countries, including the Czech Republic, over their failure to respect the EU's directive banning tobacco advertisements. The EC is taking Italy to the European Court of Justice in this matter, after the country failed to harmonise its legislation with EU rules. The Czech Republic could be taken to court, too, if it does not explain to the EC why it does not follow the common directives. Apart from the Czechs, a similar problem is faced by Spain and Hungary.
Delta Air Lines of the United States announced on Wednesday it would launch scheduled flights between Prague and its Atlanta, Georgia hub starting on May 2 next year. The airline said it would be the only service between the two cities. Delta expects around 40 percent of travellers arriving in Prague to transit to another destination in Central and Eastern Europe. Delta, the third biggest US carrier, will operate five scheduled flights a week on the new route, it added. The airline is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, which also includes Czech state-controlled carrier, Czech Airlines.
Police have proposed that former head of the prime minister's office Zdenek Dolezel charged with blackmail and corruption and two other persons accused in the same case should be taken into custody, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. A court is to decide within 24 hours whether Zdenek Dolezel, Ladislav Peta and Miloslav Rehulka will be taken into custody. The charges against Mr Dolezel, Mr Peta, mayor of the small south Moravian town of Budisov, and Mr Rehulka, an Agriculture Ministry employee, were brought on Wednesday in connection with suspected corruption in the handling of EU structural funds channelled via the Local Development Ministry and blackmail of architect Marek Ricar who reported the planned fraud to the police.
The European Commission launched proceedings against eight members on Thursday for failing to say how many gas emissions permits they would give polluters under the EU's emission trading scheme. The EC said it was sending warning letters to Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain for ignoring an end June deadline to reveal their plans. The plans are supposed to set the total number of emissions allowances governments will give to industrial plants during the 2008-2012 period under the EU's innovative emissions trading scheme. The quotas are the cornerstone of the landmark trading scheme which was launched at the beginning of 2005 to help member states meet their greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
Reacting to Tuesday's arrest of three men suspected of corruption and
illegally siphoning monies from European Structural Funds projects, the
Minister for Regional Development, Petr Gandalovic, has temporarily
suspended all projects that fall under the category of the Joint
Regional Operation Program (SROP). The announcement came Wednesday
afternoon, and Mr. Gandalovic told reporters that the ministry wants to
conduct an audit on all projects which started in December 2004 or
later, and that this should happen as quickly as possible.
On Tuesday the unit investigating organized crime in the Czech Republic arrested Zdenek Dolezel, Ladislav Peta and Miloslav Rehulka on suspicion of illegal practices concerning EU Structural Funds. The Social Democratic ex-minister for regional development, Radek Martinek, told the press that there are additional cases of suspected fraud. The Social Democratic leadership has distanced itself from the affair, saying it's a question of individuals failing, and has no reflection on the party.
The complete collection of songs from Jaromir Nohavica's new CD, Prazska palena, have surfaced as part of the Communist Party's promotional CD in the north Moravian district of Ostrava-south. The popular folk singer did not give permission for his music to be part of the Communist Party's senate and regional election campaign, and is upset by the development. In a statement for the media, Mr. Nohavica said that "the communists always nationalized property and stole. But it surprised me that they are handing out songs that were written against their policies." Ten thousand CDs have been produced as part of the Communist Party's campaign. A representative from the Ostrava Communists says that his party did not know about the content of the promotional material, which was the responsibility of an agency, and therefore the party need not apologize to Mr. Nohavica.
The minority cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, which failed to win a vote of confidence in the lower house last week, has made additional last-minute personnel changes before submitting its resignation on Wednesday. The outgoing government has replaced five members of the executive committee at Czech Railways. The changes were proposed by the Minister of Transport, Ales Rebicek.
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