Insight Central Europe News

Slovak president signs ratification of Lisbon Treaty

The Slovak president Ivan Gasparovic has formally signed the European Union’s Treaty of Lisbon. His signature officially completes Slovakia’s ratification of a document which overhauls the workings of the EU and replaces the failed first EU constitution. It is due to come into effect next year. Mr Gasparovic said the Lisbon Treaty was vital for the continued functioning of the 27-member bloc, adding that Slovakia would not lose its sovereignty by its ratification.

US deal on missile base insufficient, says Polish PM Tusk

Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, said on Tuesday that American proposals to strengthen Polish defences in return for hosting a US missile base fell short of his country’s demands. Washington wants to install 10 land-based interceptors in Poland, as part of a global anti-missile system. Mr Tusk told reporters that once Warsaw’s requirements had been met there would be a missile shield. The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported that the US was increasingly frustrated by lack of progress in talks with Poland; it quoted an unnamed source as saying Washington wanted to know by mid-July whether Warsaw would host the missiles.

US committee votes to withhold missile shield funding

Meanwhile, a US House of Representatives committee voted on Wednesday to withhold over 50 percent of the funding sought by the Bush administration to start building the missile base and a linked radar base in the Czech Republic. The Democratic-controlled House Armed Services Committee cut funding for research and development and military construction, pending approval from Warsaw and Prague, among other things.

Czech activist goes on hunger strike over radar

In Prague an activist from the group No to Bases has gone on a hunger strike in protest against US plans to install a radar on Czech territory. Jan Tamas said he was taking radical action because the Czech government was completely ignoring growing public opposition to the radar base.

Hungary’s minority government survives first vote

Hungary’s minority Socialist government survived its first parliamentary vote on Tuesday with the support of a former coalition partner which quit the government last month. The motion, to name new ministers to replace outgoing personnel from the Alliance of Free Democrats, was passed by 200 votes for and 142 votes against. The key test for the Socialists will be the 2009 tax and budget laws, due to be debated in the autumn and winter. However, the Free Democrats have said they could oppose those bills, if they do not include public spending and tax cuts.

Poland may hold euro referendum

Poland could hold a referendum on whether to adopt the euro, the country’s economy minister, Waldemar Pawlak, told the Reuters news agency. Mr Pawlak said a public vote could be held if political compromise could not be reached on joining the common European currency. However, he said if agreement could be reached among the parties in parliament then what he described as a technical decision could be reached by the country’s lawmakers. Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski has said Warsaw could take the initial step towards euro adoption by joining the ERM-2 exchange rate grid as soon as next year, to be ready to drop the zloty in 2011 or 2012.

Austria looking forward to Euro 2008 windfall, say study

Economists working for the Austrian government put the value of co-hosting the European Football Championship at over 300 million euros, or the equivalent of about 0.15 percent of annual GDP. In addition, they expect net spending of 263 million euros and the equivalent of 6,000 jobs created for the duration of the June event, which Austria is jointly hosting with Switzerland. Sectors set to benefit in Austria, according to a study carried out by SportsEconAustria, are mainly construction, tourism and services.