The Czech Competitiveness Council is a platform for debating competitiveness, economic policy and promoting solutions across all sectors, public and private.

Spotlight Issue

Economic Policy: Czech government approved operational programmes

14 July 2014

On its meeting on Monday 14th July Czech government approved 2 remaining remaining operational programmes “Business and Innovation for Competitiveness” and “Technical Help.” Czech Republic can use up to EUR 22 bn (CZK 600 bn) through all 9 operational programmes. The programmes are to be sent to Brussels until 17th July. After that date negotiation about their final design is going to commence. Later on Monday 21st July the government will present on its meeting the final draft of Partnership Agreement which is crucial agreement for drawing the EU funds in the next 10 years.

Namely operational programme Bussines and Innovation for Competitivness means approximately 116 bn to be used on improvement of businesses’ research, development and innovation capacities. Furthermore it will focus on business development and innovation of small and medium enterprises in branches with lower knowledge intensity with the stress on making new business plans including development of services leading to increase in competitive advantage of SMEs in international environment. Regarding important contracts government also approved buying of 40,000 cubic meters of aviation kerosene for the state emergency supplies by State Administration of Material Reserves.

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Politics: Juncker elected Commission President by the MEPs

18 July 2014

Jean-Claude Juncker is the next Commission President. After designation by the political groups and formal nomination by the European Council, he was elected to the post with 422 votes in a secret ballot in the European Parliament. Mr Juncker will assume his post in November. The 422 votes in the ballot constitute a solid majority, although the result was expected – the two largest political groups in the EP, the conservatives and the socialists, struck a deal to elect the Luxembourgish ex-PM. The liberals were also for Mr Juncker. On the other hand, the far-left GUE/NGL and the third largest group, the ECR, together with the eurosceptics of Mr Farage, were against him.

Aside from the election of the new Commission President, the MEPs „grilled“ and approved 4 replacement Commissioners, approved Lithuania´s adoption of the euro, discussed maternity leave directive, situation in Ukraine and Gaza and called for more transparency concerning the TTIP talks.

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Politics: Jean-Claude Juncker prepares to assume his job as Commission President

11 July 2014

Last week, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission President-nominee, visited the European Parliament political groups to try to win their support for his future post. The European Parliament must elect Mr. Juncker to the post, which it will try to do on 16 July at a plenary session. Mr. Juncker met with all the political groups on 8 and 9 July. As expected, his political group – the EPP, strongly supports him. The S&D, the second largest political group in the EP and part of the deal with the conservatives on top EU posts, made some soft reservations, but its support is expected. To win the socialist votes, Mr. Juncker promised the post of the Commissioner for monetary and economic affairs to be attributed to a socialist. The liberals of ALDE expressed their will to contribute in a large and strong pro-EU political force, although they also have certain reservations towards Mr. Juncker. The ECR group does not like the process by which Mr. Juncker won his appointment by the European Council and therefore will not support him in the vote. However, the third largest political group in the EP expressed the will to cooperate with the new Commission in a correct manner. Mr. Juncker was refused by the far-left GUE/NGL, as well as by the Eurocritical EFDD group. The Greens/EFA will decide based on Mr. Junckers detailed program.

Meanwhile, Mr. Juncker tries to gain more women for the future Commissioner posts. Almost all the Member States which have already announced their Commissioner-nominees, have announced men – i.e. Jyrki Katainen from Finland, Maros Sefcovic from Slovakia or Gunter Oettinger from Germany. Mr. Juncker wants a balanced Commission and promised strong portfolios and Vice-Presidency posts to countries which nominate women.

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Economic Policy: Czech Republic comes close to signing the Partnership Agreement for 2014-2020

11 July 2014

In the past weeks, the EC communicated 88 comments on the proposed Partnership Agreement for the period 2014-2020. During a teleconference on 8 July, the representatives of the EC and of the Czech Republic managed to come into agreement regarding the vast majority of them. On 10 July in Prague, a meeting was held on which all other problems were discussed and practically eliminated. As for the Commission´s reservations, the EC did not like the support scheme for Roma employment or the absence of the civil service law. Czech negotiators managed to win Commission´s support regarding problematic support schemes, such as regional transport infrastructure. However, bigger political issues persist – the Commission pointed out, that the Czech Republic still does not have civil service law and its EIA process legislation is not in line with the EU requirements. Regarding the civil service law, the Czech Republic will communicate to the Commission the proposed law and the follow-up legislation and will promise to pass the law as soon as possible. As for the EIA, the Czech Republic also promised to amend the existing law by 2015. The final signing of the Partnership Agreement is expected in September. Poland and Slovakia have already signed the Agreements for 2014-2020. Based on the Agreement, the Czech Republic will be able to benefit from €22 billion in the next programming period.

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Economic Policy: European Commission has objections to the Czech Partnership Agreement for the year 2014-2020

09 July 2014

European Commission still has objections to the proposed Partnership Agreement that is to be made with the Czech Republic. The total number of European Commission reservations is 88. These reservations are for the Czech Republic to solve. Main areas that are concerned are healthcare with purchases of medical instruments, investments into waste incineration plants, ICT tenders that have failed many times in the previous period, organic gas stations or support for the Roma families that lacks clear measurable indicators. Solving all of the 88 reservations could mean postponing agreement for another year. Signing the agreement means for the Czech Republic available funds for subsidies in total amount of CZK 550 bn for the years 2014-2020. Part of the equation is also Civil Service Act which was discussed by the Czech delegation led by Minister Jiří Dienstbier and concerned Eurocommissioners.

Czech government on its meeting on Wednesday 9th July also approved operation programs for the years 2014-2020. Those programs approved were: OP Employment, OP Transportation, Integrated Regional OP for 2014-2020, OP Environment 2014-2020, OP Research, Development and Education, Program for Countryside Development 2014-2020 and OP Prague. Government also discussed co-financing of incentive projects where some of the subject could achieve 0 % co-financing while others in specific cases would pay 5 % instead of former 5 % or more. Government also discussed proposal of state budget with promises of increasing funds for research and development.

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