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

Spotlight Issue

Good Governance: Microsoft through Better Place App is looking for 10,000 good deeds in Czech Republic

21 August 2015


Better Place app is part of the Microsoft campaign #Upgrade Your World, running to promote the launch of Windows 10. The aim of this Czech campaign is to find 10,000 good deeds and support Better Place, which does good things every day. Better Place (an app and website) is a social responsibility platform and network which can locate, take pictures and comment on places which can and should be better. Better Place can transparently and instantly convey the information to the municipality which can deal with the change. Companies and NGO’s are also part of the collaboration system, as is everyone who is using the Better Place app. Anyone can suggest and be part of the solution because the app also enables users to easily and conveniently volunteer and contribute resources to projects. Municipalities, companies, organizations or citizens can present a solution immediately. The Better Place app has more functionalities; it can collate data by hashtag use; it can present the projects of NGO’s or foundations and it can act as a cooperation platform for the public and private sector.

How Better Place works.

Better place for everyone. Make better place in your surroundings for the better life of everyone. Number of users 5,193 (still increasing).

Better place for the municipalitiesTransparent system of the improving tips and requirements of citizens. The task can be easily posted to the responsible department and officer. 97 of the municipalities involved, but the tips for improvement can be sent from any place in Czech Republic and responsible departments will be informed and involved.

Better place for companies and businessmenGood reputation. New orders. Effective communication with employees. 48 participating companies.

 

Details in Czech.

News

HN interview with Commissioner Jourová:some EU member states lose 5% of GDP per year due to low employment of women

06 August 2015

Originally, the European Commission planned to have equal participation of women and men in the EU’’s labor market by 2020. Nowadays, 2081 seems to be a more likely date. Some EU member states lose 5% of GDP due to low participation of women in the economy, says European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová. Read more.

More opinions on life-work balance in the Czech Republic.

 

Politics: Greece and the eurozone reach bailout deal

16 August 2015

On 11 August, the expert representatives of both Greece and its eurozone creditors reached an agreement on the basic parameters of the third Greek bailout program. When last details were settled, the Greek parliament voted on the deal, as well as on a set of first preconditions for its launch, on Friday 14 August in the morning. Then, in the evening, the eurozone finance ministers gave their political blessing.

The new 3-year ESM-funded program is worth €86 bn. Greece will have to go through tough reforms in areas such as VAT, pensions, regulated professions, civil justice or education. Also, state assets will be privatized. Greek banks, currently on the brink of collapse, are also mentioned in the new Memorandum of Understanding – the formal name of the deal and the term most commonly used in Athens for the bailout. Bank resolution rules will be adjusted to match eurozone standards and banks will be recapitalized – either from the new ESM-provided loans, or from privatization. However, the new agreement excludes bail-in of individual depositors´ money – the citizens´ bank accounts will thus remained untouched. Privatization will be realized through an independent fund, co-administered with the European institutions, to which the Greek state will transfer its assets, including recapitalized banks, to reach a cumulative value of €50 bn. Profits from the privatization will be used for further bank recapitalizations, for debt servicing and for investments in the economy. Greece will be able to run a primary fiscal deficit this year of 0.25% of GDP, but starting next year its budget will get on a path to reach a 3.5% of GDP primary surplus in 2018.

As with the previous programs, there will be regular reviews assessing Greek reform effort. First €26 bn will, however, be disbursed immediately after the final approval of the bailout by the ESM board of directors – expected on Wednesday 19 August. Some €13 bn will be immediately sent to Greece, in order for the Greeks to be able to honor their commitments to the ECB due on 20 August. Next €10 bn will be put aside to a separate account within the ESM for quick bank recapitalizations. The final €3 bn of the first tranche will be disbursed by the end of August.

Following both technical and political agreements last week, several eurozone parliaments will now vote on the program. The attention is mostly focused on the German Bundestag. The vote is expected on Wednesday 19 August and heated debate is likely to take place. The same day, subject to approval of the aforementioned parliaments, the ESM Board of Directors will take a final vote.

There is still one critical question which rests unresolved – possible IMF involvement. Mainly Germany would like to have the IMF on board – chiefly for its expertise and credibility on fiscal adjustment programs. However, the IMF worries that the Greek debt has become unsustainable and therefore sees any bailout unaccompanied by debt relief as prone to fail. And it does not intend to risk its reputation on a failing program. IMF director Christine Lagarde promised the Eurogroup on Friday to recommend the IMF Board to re-assess the possible program participation in October – at that time it will likely be visible if the reform effort is sufficient in Greece and thus if the program has a chance to succeed. As for Greek debt relief, Germany and Slovakia ruled out any nominal debt cuts (preferred by the IMF). However, EU sources indicate talks are ongoing on other adjustments, such as longer grace or repayment periods.

For more, click here, here, here and here.

   

Economic Policy: EU and Vietnam reach an agreement on free trade

09 August 2015

After two and a half years of negotiations, the EU and Vietnam agreed last week in principle on a free trade agreement. The deal will eliminate almost all tariffs and dramatically reduce other non-tariff barriers in Vietnam for EU products. Investment and government procurement for EU companies will also be made easier in the South Eastern nation. The deal will provide EU companies with a market of 90 million in Vietnam, as well as provide Vietnam – a developing country, with significant incentives for growth, the two parties hope. A legally binding link with the EU-Vietnam general partnership treaty was also negotiated, meaning that human rights and other non-trade related issues are also part of the equation – if Vietnam violates human rights, the FTAs advantages can be suspended. The EU-Vietnam treaty, when put to practice, will be the second between the EU and an ASEAN country (following the EU-Singapore deal). The EU chose a country-by-country approach to trade negotiations following the assessment, that an inter-regional EU-ASEAN deal would be overly complicated. The agreement in principle reached last year will now need to be translated into the exact wording of the deal, meaning that some technical hurdles still need to be resolved on the technical level. The Commission expects the deal finished and ready for ratification by the Council and by the European Parliament in a few months´ time, certainly before the end of this year.

For more, click here, here and here.

On the subject of EU-Asian FTAs, Italian PM Matteo Renzi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe issued a statement following their meeting last week, urging to speed up the negotiations of an EU-Japan strategic partnership and free trade deal. The two partners promised to work towards a successful conclusion of the treaty by the end of 2015. Meanwhile, India suspended its un-freezing of free trade talks with the EU following a refusal of EU regulators to lift the ban on Indian generic pharmaceutics on the EU market.

For more on these issues, click here and here. For details in Czech click here.

 

Economic Policy: EU's and Czech population ageing fast

22 July 2015

Currently available data on fertility released by the Czech Ministry of Health show there are around 43 newborns per 1,000 women. This is a significant fall compared with 1990 and the trend is ever stronger. "We are producing more and more things and less and less children," demographer Tomáš Fiala says. Find out more on current demographic and related economic and political challenges in an interview with demographer at the University of Economics in Prague Tomáš Fiala (Čechů se rodí stále méně - Less and less newborn Czechs) and in an interview with egyptologist professor Miroslav Bárta.

During the period from 2014 to 2080 the share of the population of working age is expected to decline steadily through until 2050 before stabilising somewhat, while older persons will likely account for an increasing share of the total population: those aged 65 years or over will account for 28.7 % of the EU-28’s population by 2080, compared with 18.5 % in 2014. As a result of the population movement between age groups, the EU-28’s old-age dependency ratio is projected to almost double from 28.1 % in 2014 to 51.0 % by 2080. The total age dependency ratio is projected to rise from 51.8 % in 2014 to 77.9 % by 2080. Read more in the Eurostat latest Population structure and aging statistics.

   

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