Insight Central Europe News

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Poland: opposition group threatens to block EU treaty

Poland's conservative opposition is threatening to block parliament's ratification of the European Union's reform treaty. Previously all parties had supported the treaty but an anti-EU bloc within the Law and Justice party is now demanding a referendum. The government and its allies are about 14 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the treaty. President Lech Kaczynski met parliamentary leaders in an attempt to resolve the stand-off.

EU and US compromise over visa-waiver agreements

The European Union and the United States have compromised in their dispute over visa-free travel for EU citizens. Meeting in Slovenia, officials said the EU would allow Washington to keep talking to countries individually on some issues while dealing with Brussels on others. The European Commission heavily criticised a recent bilateral deal on visa-free travel between the Czech Republic and the United States. Brussels wants to negotiate on an EU-wide basis.

Croatia in EU in 2010? - Slovenia welcomes suspension of fishing dispute

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says he is confident that Croatia will be able to join the European Union in 2010. Speaking in Brussels after meeting Croatia's foreign minister he said Croatia sill has work to do but has passed major hurdles including its suspension of a fishing dispute with Slovenia and Italy. The Croatian parliament recently voted to postpone a special fish-protection zone in the Adriatic. Slovenia's foreign ministry welcomed the decision.

Austrian Chancellor welcomes Slovakia nuclear upgrade

Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer has given cautious support to Slovakia's plans to rebuild its nuclear power station at Mochovce. Speaking at a meeting of Social Democrat leaders in Brussels Mr Gusenbauer said if Slovkia replaces an old nuclear plant with a newer and safer one then it “contributes to Austria's safety as well”. Slovakia wants to build two new reactors at Mohovce to replace the two old reactors being taken out of service at Bohunice. Anti-nuclear groups in Austria have criticised the Chancellor's statement.

Hungary's radical right-wing “Guards” march on court building

More than a hundred uniformed members of the extreme right group, the Hungarian Guard, this week attempted to disrupt court proceedings aimed at banning the groups. Despite metal barriers and a large police presence a number of Guard members managed to get into the court room. Others stood in a military-style formation in front of the building. The court is hearing whether the extreme-right group should be banned because it campaigns against the rights and freedoms of Hungarian minority groups - especially Roma and Sinti.