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Spotlight Issue

Politics: Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek visited US universities and research centers

20 November 2014

During the visit to the USA along with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and others the Deputy Prime Minister for Science, Research and Innovations Pavel Bělobrádek visited two universities and two research centers. On 18th November Minister Pavel Bělobrádek visited Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and inspected BLAM laboratories (Brain, Learning, Animation and Movement) with their research being usable in commercial fields of sport or computer games. In John Hopkins Hospital Minister Bělobrádek also met Justin McArthur, world renowned expert on epidemiology, HIV and multiple sclerosis. Later Minister Bělobrádek visited University of Maryland where he discussed with its vice-president Ken Gertz the possibility of cooperation with Czech research institutions one of the options being joint projects using Czech, US and EU grants. They also discussed possibile exchange of academic workers and students and assessed the research arenas with the biggest possible potential. On 20th November Minister Pavel Bělobrádek visited Office of Naval Research and discussed with the chief of naval research rear-admiral Matthew L. Klunder the possibility of closer cooperation with Czech scientists and of enlargement of ONR’s branch in Prague that monitors scientific and technological innovations in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and supports joint international projects. In Bethesda, Maryland, Minister Bělobrádek visited National Institute of Health where he discussed the possibility of Czech-American cooperation in using ICT technologies in healthcare.

For more click here and here.


Politics: Foreign Affairs Council considers further sanctions against Russia

21 November 2014

On 17 November, foreign minister of the EU held a session of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The Council was presided by Federica Mogherini, the Union´s high representative for foreign affairs and Vice-President in the Juncker´s Commission. Ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine. Since new wave of shelling and movements of armed personnel in the separatist-held areas has been reported, the FAC called on all parties to respect the Minsk protocol and the ceasefire. The EU is ready to assist in a renewed dialogue between Ukraine and Moscow to peacefully settle the conflict, ministers agreed. However, since hostilities have largely been renewed, and with regard to the so-called elections in separatist-held areas, the Council tasked the Commission and the EEAS to prepare further sanctions against separatists. These will be or will not be put to practice based the situation on the ground. To support the future Ukrainian government´s reform agenda, the EU agreed to deploy an Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine), which will become operational on 1 December.



Politics: Notes of the Vice President’s Meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka

19 November 2014

Vice President Joe Biden met on November 18 with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to discuss bilateral relations, the crisis in Ukraine, and European energy security. The Vice President expressed appreciation for the Czech Republic’s contributions to international security in Afghanistan and Iraq, and discussed the importance of strengthening the NATO Alliance to respond to emerging challenges.In this regard, the Vice President noted the importance of allies reinvesting in defense and better sharing the cost of security. The Vice President underscored the importance of imposing costs on Russia for its continued violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as its blatant disregard for the commitments it undertook in the September 5 Minsk agreement, particularly with regard to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory. The two leaders also agreed on the importance of bolstering Europe’s energy security and creating a true market for natural gas in Europe. Finally, on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution the Vice President conveyed his profound admiration for the late Czech President Vaclav Havel, whose legacy is being commemorated on Capitol Hill this week, and who served as a champion for countless human rights advocates who believe in the “power of the powerless."


Politics: Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to visit USA

15 November 2014

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will along with speaker of Chamber of Deouties of Parliament of the Czech Republic Jan Hamáček, Deputy-Prime Minister for Science, Research and Innovations Pavel Bělobrádek and Minister of Culture Daniel Herman begin working visit to the USA to attend the ceremonies commemorating 25th anniversary of the Velvet revolution and events of 17th November 1989. Prime Minister is going to arrive on Monday 17th November and attend the concert of Czech Philharmonics at Washington National Cathedral to commemorate the 25th Anniversary. Prime Minister will also meet Madeleine Albright that day. On Tuesday 18th apart from visiting United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Prime Minister is also going to meet Vice-president of the USA Joe Biden and Minister for Energetics Ernest Moniz. The main event of Wednesday 19th November will be unveiling of the bust of Václav Havel in Congress where Bohouslav Sobotka is going to meet Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner and leader of the Democrats Minority in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will end his visit on 20th November by laying the foundation stone of the new gym building Sokol West and meeting with compatriots in The Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas, Texas.

For more click here, here and here.


Politics: EC President Juncker responds to LuxLeaks, proposes more tax harmonization

14 November 2014

Following last week´s revelations by the international consortium of investigative journalists about secret tax deals between Luxembourg and big multinationals, Commission President and former Luxembourgish PM and finance minister Jean-Claude Juncker faced MEPs´ and journalists´ questions on the matter. Mr Juncker´s situation is particularly delicate – he took control of the EU´s executive only recently and this case undermines his political image. Also, the EU has long pushed for a more effective fight against tax evasion, mostly by big multinationals, and Mr Juncker is supposed to be one of the faces of this fight. Under the Luxembourgish law, the Grand Duchy´s tax administration can issue so-called comfort letters to companies, stating that their tax arrangements are in line with the legislation. However, thanks to very creative tax arrangements, Luxembourg de facto approved effective corporate tax rate of only 0.25% for some big enterprises. Mr Juncker stressed that every action taken by the tax administration, which is in fact totally autonomous in Luxembourg, was in line with national legislation and international standards. Despite that, he added, tax evasion may have occurred and as prime minister, he was politically responsible. But the new Commission President did not stop here – he added that all this was possible only because of the lack of tax harmonization inside the EU bloc. He therefore stressed the importance of adopting the corporate tax base directive and announced the preparation of an obligatory automatized sharing of tax rulings information.



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