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Spotlight Issue

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.



Competitiveness: A year after monetary intervention of CNB

09 November 2014

cAlthough it has been a year since the introduction of Czech National Bank intervention to weaken Czech currency both professionals and general public still can’t agree whether it was good or bad measure. Present Governor of Czech National Bank Miroslav Singer defends these steps as necessary and that the Czech economy with the help of weaker currency is slowly but steadily growing. When asked member of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic Zbyněk Frolík said that that the confederation as a whole still couldn’t decide whether the steps taken by Czech National Bank were for the good or for the bad. Professor Richard Hindls from the University of Economics, Prague said that the economy tends to react more slowly and the matter is more complex as consumers always tend to lag behind in their behavior slowing the impact of upcoming recession at first and reacting later when the economy begins to grow again. He also added that the economy is always influenced by more than one factor including weak Eurozone or influence of international situations and conflicts as it is the case of Ukraine.



Politics: Germany will not sacrifice free movement of people, Merkel indicates

07 November 2014

On Sunday 2 November, German media informed about Angela Merkel´s worries about the UK´s position towards EU free movement of people. UK´s PM David Cameron is under pressure at home to cope with the allegedly overwhelming numbers of incoming workforce from the EU. The pressure is exercised mainly by the anti-EU UKIP party of Nigel Farage, but also by some anti-EU conservatives. Earlier, he stated that his government is ready to change the immigration laws so as to put a cap on immigration, including from the EU. This would clearly violate the EU law. Also, this step might be a step over the red line for Ms Merkel, until now a strong supporter of the UK inside the EU. When Mr Cameron announced his plan to hold an in-or-out referendum in 2017 if he stays in government after next year´s general elections, Ms Merkel understood his call for EU treaties revision and declared ready to discuss and possibly reform. But now, Der Spiegel informed, Ms Merkel is uneasy about Mr Cameron´s plan to scrap a key EU free movement. For the first time, it is said, she admitted “Brexit” a real possibility. In other words, German support for the UK has its limits – and these are the free movements. If Mr Cameron proceeds with his plan, he will almost certainly lose Ms Merkel´s backing. Under such circumstances, if the 2017 referendum was to take place, the UK would practically push itself out of the EU. But Ms Merkel´s statement on the matter seems clear – free movements are non-negotiable, even if it meant an EU without the UK.

For more, click here and here.


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