News of Radio Prague

Cowen: Ireland supports EU enlargement

Irish foreign minister Brian Cowen is visiting the Czech Republic. At a meeting with his Czech counterpart, Jan Kavan, Mr Cowen highlighted the fact that 59 percent of Irish people support EU enlargement, despite a recent "no" vote in a referendum on the Nice treaty. Mr Kavan said Ireland was a model country for the Czech Republic as it bids to join the EU, and that he appreciated Ireland's offer for assistance in the process. Ireland announced earlier that it will not request a transition period for free movement of labour after the accession of new candidate countries from Central and Eastern Europe, a stance appreciated by the former East bloc nations.

Law on EU accession referendum approved

The Czech Senate has approved a law granting the country's citizens a referendum upon joining the European Union. The law is crucial for the Czech Republic's accession to the EU. According to Czech president Vaclav Havel, the referendum could take place in 2003. In that year, parliaments of EU member countries are expected to ratify membership of new candidate countries. The law will now be submitted to the Czech Lower House for approval.

Czech Republic could join eurozone in 6 years

The Czech Republic could join the single European currency two to four years after accession to the EU in 2004 or 2005, according to participants at a conference called Euro-Union 2001. The conference agreed that 2007 or 2008 were realistic dates for the Czech Republic to adopt the Euro. However, they identified several aspects that can endanger the process, such as the growing deficit in public finances. Continuation of this negative trend can even threaten the economic balance of the country, the conference concluded. The criteria for entry to the single European currency are a public finance deficit not higher than 3 percent and an overall debt below 60 percent of GDP.

Havel visits Switzerland

Czech President Vaclav Havel is in Switzerland for a two-day official visit. Upon his arrival, president Havel was welcomed by his Swiss counterpart Moritz Leuenberger. Havel is to deliver a speech in the country's parliament and meet with top Swiss representatives to discuss mutual cooperation of the two countries, expansion of the EU and NATO, as well as Switzerland's experience with reform of public administration.

President Havel said the two countries had traditionally good relations and stressed that the Czech nation is grateful to Switzerland for its help to Czechoslovak asylum seekers during the Communist regime.

Czech weather report

And finally, a brief look at the weather. On Friday, a cold front will be moving further to the East and the weather in the Czech Republic will be influenced by high pressure area from the West. We are expecting a cloudy to partially cloudy day with scattered showers and thunderstorms. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 20 to 24 degrees Celsius.