The Czech Republic needs to adopt an efficient long-term strategy to help reduce its public finance deficit, the European Commission (EC) strongly recommended in a document issued on Wednesday. The report also said the country's economy is in critical state and measures should be taken to fight unemployment, cut social security and reform the health sector and pension system. The document is part of the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPG) that assess the economies of EU members as the Czech Republic joins the European Union on May 1. The BEPG will be submitted to the EU summit in June.
The Lower House of Parliament has passed a new bill on employment. The bill allows the unemployed who earn smaller sums of money keep the right to employment benefits. However, it also gives the state more power to introduce measures against those unemployed persons who do not cooperate with labour offices. The bill is yet to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President. Almost eleven percent of the Czech population are currently unemployed; some 570,000 people of the country's ten million inhabitants.
President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla met on Wednesday to discuss Czech policy and priorities within the enlarged EU. The meeting was initiated by President Klaus who wished to discuss a government draft concept outlining Czech policy and priorities within the EU up until 2013. In mid-March, Mr. Klaus sent a letter to the prime minister with a list of objections and points that needed clearing up. The letter was published on the website of the presidential office on Wednesday. As the date of EU accession nears, talks on EU matters are intensifying at all levels. Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda travelled to Paris on Wednesday evening for talks with his French counterpart Michel Barnier. The main topic on their agenda is EU enlargement.
NATO is said to be considering a Czech offer to send a surgical team to Afghanistan. The team would consist of a surgeon, anaesthetist and several nurses to boost a multi-national medical centre in Kabul. Hungary has allegedly made a similar offer. At present there are around 20 Czech soldiers -mainly mine-experts and meteorologists - serving in the vicinity of Kabul Airport and the Czech Republic has also sent a special unit which is helping to comb the Afghan mountains for members of the terrorist organization Al Qaida.
A group of fifty Iraqi judges are scheduled to come to Prague on April 17 to take part in a fourteen-day course called "the judiciary in a democratic society". The course, which is to help the judges prepare for their country's transformation into a democracy is organised by the Ceeli Institute. According to the institute's Hana Borcevska, the course was to be held last month but had to be postponed; the Iraqi judges requested to be transported in a military aircraft with antimissile defence systems.
The Lower House on Tuesday voted that 17 of its members who have been observers to the European Parliament since last year will remain as temporary deputies until the June elections to the European Parliament. The upper house of parliament, the Senate, confirmed its seven observers last week. All 24 temporary deputies will represent the Czech Republic in the European Parliament from May 1st, when the Czech Republic joins the EU, to July 19th, when the newly elected deputies will be ready to take up their mandates.
Thursday is expected to have overcast skies and scattered showers. Day-time temperatures are to range from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius.
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