Intensive negotiations are taking place within the ruling coalition in order to find a suitable candidate for the post of European Commissioner following Social Democrat MP Milos Kuzvarts' unexpected rejection of the post on Friday. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has been meeting with advisers and his party's leadership before discussing the matter with coalition partners in government. Milos Kuzvart's unexpected decision shocked the entire political scene and has placed the Prime Minister in an embarrassing position since it was he who primarily backed Kuzvart, in the face of heated opposition from his coalition partners.
European Commission President Romano Prodi has urged the Czech government to find a suitable replacement by Wednesday. The Czech government needs to find a strong and capable candidate prepared to meet the challenges ahead, Mr. Prodi said. Only so can it help to diminish the political damage that has been done by this unfortunate incident, he added. During talks with the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda on Monday the EU Commissioner for Expansion Gunter Verheugen said the incident was perceived as "a bad signal" and could damage the Czech Republic's position in the EU. We strongly advise you to recommend only strong and highly qualified candidates for EU posts in the future, Mr. Verheugen said.
Six people were rushed to hospital with severe breathing problems after a hydrogen sulphide leak in the Varnsdorf textile factory on Monday. One of the employees was brought in unconscious and remains in intensive care. The other five are said to be recovering well but are still under observation. Police are investigating the cause of the leak and checking out safety norms at the plant. The director of the plant has told the CTK press agency that nothing of this kind had ever happened before and that he would naturally compensate the workers for any permanent health damage caused.
Martin Roman has been appointed general director of the state run power utility CEZ. The board of directors have also elected him chairman of the board. Mr. Roman replaces Jaroslav Mil who was dismissed late last year for alleged poor communication with the state authorities. The new general director said CEZ shareholders had asked him to boost the efficiency and value of the company and to make it an important and competitive player on the EU market, which the Czech Republic joins in May. One of his immediate tasks will be to complete the integration of CEZ power distributors.
Police are investigating the death of a rail employee who was hit by a train in the early hours of Monday morning. The incident happened at the Hradec Kralove railway station when the employee in question was assisting in a routine rail operation. It is the second death of a Czech rail-worker since the beginning of the year. In January an employee who was cleaning the tracks of snow was hit and killed by a passing express train.
Tuesday is expected to be overcast with snow showers and day temperatures between minus two and plus two degrees Celsius.