Daily news summary News

27-09-2004

Spidla fields questions as nominated EU commissioner, speaks out for EU social model

Vladimir Spidla, one of 25 incoming Euro commissioners, spoke on Monday in favour of the European Union social model during his hearing in European Parliament. He said he also supported reforms to increase the competitiveness of the European economy and said as commissioner of EU social affairs he would strive to achieve and maintain a high employment rate within the union.

Later in the day, Mr Spidla then faced grilling from euro MPs, including representatives from the Czech Republic and Greece, over topics like state debt and poverty. Mr Spidla also spoke about the free movement of labour as one of the EU's strengths, the reason why, as commissioner for social affairs, he would push for twelve countries from the "original fifteen" to reconsider restrictions against new member states that joined the EU in May.

Czech president to El Pais: "European identity does not exist"

Czech president Vaclav Klaus, on an official visit to Spain, has rejected the notion of a single European identity, for Spanish journal El Pais. Speaking with the paper Mr Klaus said differences over Iraq were proof that Europe was "not united". During the discussion Mr Klaus rejected the "eurosceptic" label, telling El Pais he preferred to be seen as a "euro realist" for whom a freer, more democratic Europe with higher productivity was important.

Alleged drug dealers to remain in Austrian custody

Two Czechs charged with dealing drugs will remain in Austrian custody for the time being, while an Austrian court decides whether to allow the men to be extradited to the U.S. to face trial. The two are due to remain in Austrian hands for the next month. The Czech duo of businessman Vaclav Pitas and race car driver Oskar Benes are suspected of having smuggled approximately 6 million euros worth of ecstasy to the United States. Mr Pitas, aged 50, and Mr Benes, aged 47, were arrested near Graz, Austria, recently during an international sting operation.

Police arrest members of human trafficking gang

Czech police have arrested 13 Vietnamese members of a human trafficking gang believed to have smuggled young Vietnamese women into the Czech Republic for forced prostitution. A police spokesman said on Monday the gang had been broken by the police special unit against organised crime. The gang lured victims to the Czech Republic on promises of legal employment, before forcing them into prostitution. One under-aged girl was allegedly sold in Germany for an estimated 100, 000 euros.

Three Czechs released in Poland after falling under suspicion of "plotting attack"

Three Czechs arrested near Gdansk, Poland, on Sunday have been released, following police questioning and an identity check. The three were taken into custody after calling attention to their persons by taking photographs of a sunset near a local oil refinery. Police took the three into custody to determine whether or not they might be planning a terrorist attack. Poland has seen tensions rise and increased anxiety regarding potential terrorist strikes: a new poll has shown that 83 percent of the population says it believes their country could be targeted by terrorists in retaliation for Poland's military involvement in Iraq.

Boy struck in javelin accident fighting for his life

A 13-year-old boy struck by a javelin at an athletics meet on Saturday is fighting for his life in the north Bohemian town in Liberec. The accident took place at a local stadium during warm-ups when one of the athletes threw the javelin outside the area, accidentally striking the boy. The 13-year-old underwent a seven hour operation and remains in critical condition.

Hurikova wins junior women's world time-trial crown

Czech cyclist Tereza Hurikova won the women's junior time-trial title at the world road race cycling championships near the Italian city of Verona on Monday. Ms Hurikova, who is 17, clocked a time of 22 minutes 14 seconds in a race against the clock around part of the scenic Lake Garda. The route was just under16 kilometres Rebacca Much of the United States came second, followed by Australian Amanda Spratt.

Weather

Tuesday is expected to be sunny with daytime temperatures reaching highs between 13 and 18 degrees Celsius.

27-09-2004