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News

Political Digest March 2017

20.03.2017
Company: Grayling Czech Republic, s.r.o.

Latest news from Czech political life.

The lawmaker

Miloš Zeman

The Government, MPs, the Senate or regional governments – these are the select few who can put forward legislative proposals in the Czech Republic. When Miloš Zeman announced his intention to run for another presidential term, he also said that he would like to be able to submit such proposals as well. While it’s unlikely that Parliament would amend the Constitution to include this right, the President intends to meet various MPs during his second term (if elected) and convince them to submit bills in his name. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka thinks that there are already too many proposals in Parliament. Many of them are not debated at all, despite featuring on the programme of every plenary session.

Sobotka sees no reason to increase presidential powers, especially as there are plenty of other ways to intervene in the legislative process and table amendments. This stance, however, may persuade the President to draw on the services of sympathetic MPs, of whom there were more than enough last Thursday at Prague Castle to celebrate his decision to run again.

 

Five more days

When the unions first came up with the idea of five weeks’ mandatory leave in the private sector, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour was against it. Now the same idea is part of an amendment submitted to Parliament and, to the surprise of many, has the Ministry’s endorsement. According to the Czech Chamber of Commerce, those not currently offering five weeks’ leave will have to pick up an aggregate tab of CZK 28 billion to cover the costs. Combined with other restrictions in the complex amendment to the Labour Code, such as new limits on working from home, this could spell trouble for some employers. One third of the private sector already offers at least five weeks, while others tend to make up for less leave by offering other benefits. According to the Chamber, this fosters a healthy competitive environment.

 

A decisive maybe 

Marian Jurecka (Twitter)

As the general election approaches, we can see some political parties changing course. Although there is nothing unusual about this, the Christian Democrats have lately become really difficult to understand on occasion. This is particularly true of their crown prince Marian Jurečka, the Minister for Agriculture. It was he who opened the Pandora’s box that effectively ended the Act on the Register of Contracts, stating he only did it to protect the EU’s last state-owned brewery, Budweiser Budvar. He has now expressed his intention not to be part of any government that moves forward with the third and fourth stages of the Electronic Sales Register (EET). 

Although he is a member of the government that introduced the EET and he voted for all the laws implementing it, he now claims that the timetable had always been drawn up specifically in such a way that it could be stopped by the new government. As Andrej Babiš is likely to win and is determined to continue with the further stages of EET, it could be contended that Jurečka has inevitably closed the door on potential cooperation. However, you don’t need to be a political scientist to realise another U-turn may be in the offing.

The progress of e-health

The struggle over health care knows no limits. A group of MPs from the ANO Movement are proposing their own amendment to the Healthcare Services Act to facilitate the use of electronic documentation. The Ministry is lagging behind, having only issued an e-health strategy, but no legislative proposals. The current proposal is spearheaded by none other than the Chair of the Health Committee, Rostislav Vyzula, who wants to see the proposal passed in its first reading (take a look at our diagram of the legislative process to see how that works). However, the clock is ticking and there are only a few months left before the Chamber of Deputies is dissolved.

A View from Europe

Alcohol labelling

e-Privacy

On 13 March, the European Commission published a report calling for a self-regulatory measure to introduce the mandatory listing of ingredients and nutrition advice on alcoholic beverage labelling.

If the industry’s proposal falls short, the Commission will introduce its own measures. Our colleagues from the Brussels PA have prepared a short spreadsheet outlining the report’s main conclusions. The industry has a year to agree on a united approach.

If you have any questions or if you need any assistance with this issue in relation to your industry, feel free to contact us or the Brussels team directly

Tags: Politics |

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