The Czech government on Wednesday approved an updated version of the
country’s convergence plan, committing to narrowing the budget deficit
this year to 3 percent of the GDP. In the following years, the deficit
should not exceed the 3-percent threshold required for the adoption of the
euro, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said. According to the latest figures by
the Czech Statistical Office, the budget deficit last year dropped to 3.09
percent of the gross domestic product, down from 4.8 percent the year
The Czech government has not set down any date for the adoption of the euro although it is legally bound to join the eurozone by its accession treaty to the EU. However, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said earlier this month he did not believe the government would do so in the near future.
Czech labour unions on Wednesday threatened to undertake further protest actions against the government’s reform plans. Union leaders said a new round of protests would be more radical than that staged in Prague last Saturday when around 100,000 people marched through the capital demanding the centre-right government to step down. The head of the unions’ association, Jaroslav Zavadil said the protests would “hurt”, adding that union leaders would no longer attend meetings with the government.
The Czech Energy Regulatory Office will not subsidise renewable energy sources put into operation after the year 2014, the head of the agency, Alena Vitásková, told reporters on Wednesday, arguing that the Czech Republic could not afford to do so. Ms Vitásková said the Czech Republic spent more on subsidies for renewable energy source per capita than most countries of the world, and stopping them after 2014 move would save 618 billion crowns. In spite of stopping the subsidies, the Energy Regulatory Office expects the country to meet the EU target of covering 13.5 percent of its energy consumption from renewables by the year 2020. The Czech Association for Renewable Energy Sources criticized the decision, claiming that the regulator overstepped its competence in the issue.
The Czech Senate, controlled by the opposition Social Democrats, has rejected another presidential nominee for the post of the judge of the Constitutional Court. Former Social Democrat MP Zdeněk Koudelka received 29 out of 71 votes in a secret ballot vote on Thursday. Senators questioned Mr Koudelka’s record at the Supreme State Attorney’s office at a time when several significant corruption cases were allegedly covered up there. The outcome of the vote is a blow to President Klaus whose eight previous candidates for the post were also rejected by the Senate. Mr Klaus said the Social Democrat tactic was childish, and showed they were involved in a “political game”.
The Senate on Thursday voted down a bill that would complete the liberalization of the Czech postal market by ending Czech Post’s monopoly for delivering postcards and standard parcels. Members of the upper chamber of Parliament expressed concerns the move would lead to closing down Czech Post offices in small towns and villages; deputy speaker of the Senate, Zdeněk Škormach said should the legislation take effect, large firms would only find it profitable to make business in cities. For his part, Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba said two thirds of the postal market had been liberalized, and rejected claims the bill would limit the availability of postal services. The draft legislation will not return to the lower house which can effectively overturn the Senate veto.
Olga Havlová Street, named after the first wife of the late former President Václav Havel, was inaugurated on Wednesday in the Prague neighbourhood of Žižkov. The street is located in a newly develop area in the eastern part of the neighbourhood. Olga Havlová, née Šípková, was born in Žižkov in 1933; she died of cancer in 1996. The head of the Committee of Good Will, established by Olga Havlová in 1990, said it took the authorities 13 years to name a street after the former first lady.
The first major retrospective of photographer Jan Reich opened at Prague Castle on Wednesday. The exhibition presents more than 400 photographs focusing on his images of Prague from the 1950s to the 1980s, the derelict landscape of the Sudetenland, his takes of the Bohemian countryside as well as spiritually-inspiring sites of Bohemia. Jan Reich, who is considered one of the classics of Czech photography, died in 2009 aged 67. The exhibit at the Theresian Wing of Prague Castle runs until August.
The district court in Tábor, southern Bohemia, on Wednesday, handed four men suspended sentences for promoting ethnic and racial hatred on a neo-Nazi website; one defendant was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail because he breached the conditions of his previous suspended sentence. The police came across the group in 2009 and arrested 12 people in connection with the case.
Commenting on Chelsea’s Champions League second-leg semifinal against Barcelona, the London team’s goalkeeper Petr Čech said he was “perfectly prepared” for a penalty kick by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. The Argentine star missed the shot which led Barcelona’s elimination after a 2:2 draw. Pert Čech said his team had a clear strategy; in the case of a penalty, Čech was to “wait until the last moment and not make it easy by moving. I picked the right side and he hit the post”. Petr Čech will play in the Champions League final for the second time in his career.
Czech hockey players Marek Kvapil, Filip Novák and Jakub Klepiš have won the Kontinental Hockey League title with Dynamo Moscow. Klepiš scored the winning goal in game seven of the best-of-seven final series in which Moscow beat Avantgard Omsk 1:0. Two Czechs were on the roster of runners-up Omsk: Martin Škoula and Roman Červenka who also became the KHL playoffs’ most productive player with 11 goals and 11 assists.