Insight Central Europe News

Poland mourns miners - investigation underway

In Poland an investigation is underway into the deaths of 17 miners in an explosion at the Halemba mine in southern Poland last Tuesday. President Kaczynski, who visited the site and met with family members, has promised that the cause of the accident will be uncovered. The government has promised financial assistance for the bereaved and a review of safety at all Polish mines. Labor unions say a lack of investment and massive layoffs in recent years have resulted in falling safety standards at the nation's mines.

Hungary's euro entry date unclear - Central Bank

The president of Hungary's central bank, Zsigmond Jarai, says the government's plan to prepare for the common European currency, the euro, is flawed. He says it is unclear when the country would adopt the euro. The National Bank earlier this year predicted the new currency would be introduced in 2007. Analysts now say 2014 is a more realistic date.

Czech Republic - Topolanek and Greens join forces

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has reached agreement with the Green Party to push for a four-party deal on forming a new government to run the country until early elections in the spring of 2008. Topolanek told reporters the two parties had agreed they should try to form a coalition government with the centrist Christian Democrats and the leftist Social Democrats. Centre-right and leftist parties have been locked in dispute since inconclusive parliamentary elections in June.

Central European states push for early Schengen date

Parliamentary Presidents from Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland met their Austrian counterparts in Vienna this week. The group, known as the Regional Partnership, emphasised their intention to enter the EU's Schengen zone by October next year. The European Commission is warning that new member states access to the passport-free travel zone may be delayed by up to two years. A statement from the group said joining Schengen had symbolic importance and would demonstrate that Europe was serious about breaking down borders.

Slovenia PM asks minister to resign

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa asked a cabinet member to quit this week after he proposed cutting state funding for abortion. Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Janez Drobnic last week caused controversy when he presented a new strategy for a higher birth rate in which he proposed financial restrictions on abortion. The Prime Minister's office said Drobnic had made too may proposals that caused conflict. Abortion is free in Slovenia but Drobnic proposed that state health insurance would only pay for abortion to women whose life would be in danger if they gave birth.