Press Review

All the Czech papers today report on the first case of suspected BSE or mad-cow disease in the Czech Republic. Nearly the same amount of attention is paid to the victory of the Czech football team over Northern Ireland, which keeps alive the Czechs' chances of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.

Up until now, the Czechs were convinced that mad cow disease was only a matter that concerned Western Europe, Lidove noviny writes in its front-page editorial. We used to rely on our stringent regulations and standards. There is still some hope that the suspicion won't be confirmed, but the chance is truly minute, Lidove noviny predicts.

Zemske noviny comments on the prospects of close cooperation between Central European EU candidate countries and Austria as outlined at a meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna. The candidates are not very eager to take Austria's extended hand, the paper writes, because the offer is not very convincing.

On the one hand, Austria wants to help its neighbours with the accession process, on the other, it has insisted on a seven-year ban on the free movement of labour. Nevertheless, Central European countries do need to streamline their mutual relations, which have not been ideal both in the distant and recent past, Zemske noviny concludes.

Mlada fronta Dnes reports on the situation facing Czech universities - they do not have enough capacity to take in all applicants, but try to satisfy as many as possible. This, according to the rector of Charles University in Prague, Ivan Wilhelm, leads to situations where students have to sit on window sills during lectures.

But the capacity of lecture halls is not the only problem, Mlada fronta Dnes continues. While the number of students has doubled over the past ten years, the number of staff remains at approximately the same level. And although the universities feel that it is vital to change this unsatisfactory situation, they lack the funds to do so.

The business daily Hospodarske noviny writes that it is so-called Tax Freedom Day today. This means that, theoretically, people until now have worked only to pay their taxes and from now until the end of the year they will work purely for themselves. The newspaper points out that many western countries have a lower overall tax burden, so that this day comes much earlier in the year.

Hospodarske noviny quotes the director of the Liberal Institute, Miroslav Sevcik, who calls for a reduction in taxes to 30 percent from the current level of 43, so that we could celebrate Tax Freedom Day on April 30, on the eve of Labour Day.

And finally, Pravo presents its readers with a long-term weather forecast. While in June, the temperatures have been around 7 degrees below average and the Czech Republic's mountains received fresh snowfalls, this summer is expected to be warmer than usual with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius.