Insight Central Europe News

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Poland proposes new EU voting system

Poland wants a voting system in a future EU constitution that would take into account population size and also have a weighting using a mathematical calculation suggested some years ago by Sweden. Unlike the double-majority voting system, which requires most decisions to have the backing of 55 percent of member states with at least 65 percent of the EU population, Poland's proposal increases the influence of smaller and medium-sized countries.

The proposal has not yet been put to Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency, and negotiations on it are expected to be difficult.

Russian ambassador accuses Fidesz of lying about Moscow's foreign policy

The Russian ambassador to Budapest has accused Hungary's opposition Fidesz party of lying about Moscow's foreign policy. According to Fidesz leader Viktor Orban, Hungary should not become more dependent on Russian gas because energy giant Gazprom is an arm of the state and not a commercial company, a claim denied by Russia. Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany visited Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month and discussed gas supplies amid concerns that Hungary is planning to dump a six billion US dollar EU-backed pipeline in favour of Russian gas.

Czech environment minister proposes block on cross-border dumping, incineration of waste

The Czech environment minister, Martin Bursik, has proposed a change to a European Union waste directive aimed at preventing the transport of waste across the EU for incineration. Mr Bursik put his ideas to his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, at a meeting in Prague on Thursday. Germany holds the EU presidency and Mr Gabriel said it was trying to find consensus on the issue. The dumping and incineration of rubbish from Germany into other Central European countries has been a source of some controversy. A decision on the final form of the EU waste directive will be made in June.

Meanwhile, Mr Bursik and Mr Gabriel said their two countries would work together on the formulation of a scheme to support alternative sources of energy. Czechs experts will also study Germany's experience in this field.

V4 agree to cooperate in the promotion of tourism

Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic - the Visegrad Group - have agreed to continue joint promotion of the countries' tourist attractions, particularly on foreign markets, as individual promotion is too costly. The protocol was signed by national representatives responsible for tourism during a Visegrad Group meeting in Bratislava. The four countries agreed that the most important source markets in 2007 will be the USA, China, Japan and the Asian part of the Russian Federation.

Slovene Strategic Council warns projected drop in population will slow down economic growth

Slovenia's Strategic Council for Economic Development has warned that a projected fall in the country's population will result in slowed economic growth. Recently released EU figures expect Slovenia's population of 2 million to drop to 1.9 million by 2050. According to the Council's calculations, this will constitute a yearly 0.8% decrease in the number of employed between 2025 and 2050.

Local administration to approve planned revival of gold mining in Slovakia's Kremenica

Tournigan Gold, a Canadian company that plans to invest in renewing gold mining in Slovakia's Kremnica, will have to win approval from the city council and the mayor. This is based on the new revision to the bill on mining that parliament approved this week. It requires approval from the local authorities for the use of cyanide leaching, which is the method Tournigan Gold intends to employ.