Insight Central Europe News

Czechs and British insist on EU veto right

The Czech Republic and Britain have joined force to retain national vetoes on EU decision making in the areas of criminal justice and police cooperation. Current EU President Finland had proposed the leaders drop the vetoes in favour of weighted majority voting. But at the EU summit in Brussels diplomats are reported to have said that Britain and the Czech Republic strongly opposed it. Laws being delayed by the veto rule include proposals to transfer prisoners to their home EU state and to allow the pursuit of criminals in the territory of an EU neighbor.

EU summit backs early Schengen date for new members

The summit of European Union leaders in Brussels has reaffirmed its commitment to abolishing border controls to the new EU member states by the end of 2007, with a latest possible date of March 2008. The extension of what's known as the Schengen agreement affects 9 out of the ten members which joined in 2004. Cyprus will not take part. At the beginning of December EU Interior Ministers agreed that the Schengen enlargement should go ahead as long as all conditions for external border security were fulfilled.

Efforts intensify on ending Poland-Russia dispute

Diplomatic efforts to end Poland's veto of a new EU-Russia trade agreement were intensified this week. Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and the Finnish Presidency of the EU exchanged plans aimed at resolving the issue. Poland wants Russia to lift a ban on the import of Polish meat before it will end its veto of the trade agreement. A senior Polish diplomat said he believed a deal could be finalised in "a very short period of time."

Economists predict better than expected growth for Hungary

Several economic research institutes are predicting Hungary's economy will grow by between 2.4 and 3 percent in 2007 - considerably higher than the finance ministry's forecast. Speakers at an event organised by the Economics Society also gave a generally lower forecast for inflation next year than that given by the Central Bank. A senior researcher, Maria Zita Petschnig, said she expected inflation to peak at around 8 percent in the first quarter of 2007, and then decline to a year-end rate of 4.5 percent.

Marjet Cotman endorsed as new Slovene Labour Minister

A parliamentary committee in Slovenia has endorsed Marjeta Cotman as the new candidate for the post of Minister for Labour, the Family and Social Affairs. The non binding vote is expected to pave the way for her endorsement in the National Assembly this week. Cotman this week unveiled legislation to be passed in 2007 while stressing the importance of cooperation with the national assembly along with NGO's and the social partners. Her predecessor Janez Drobnic was asked to step down for failing to seek consensus on a number of controversial issues.

VW weighs increase in Slovak investment

German car maker Volkswagen is considering further investment in Slovakia. The company's director in Slovakia, Kersten Gauditz, says production of components in the central Slovak town of Martin may be expanded, doubling the current workforce of around 800. He said no final decision has been taken. VW has invested around 50 million Euros in its Martin plant over the past six years.