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8. 7. 2014 22:28

Minister Dienstbier Visits the European Commission

During a 7 July 2014 visit to the European Commission, Jiří Dienstbier, Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities, and Legislation, was accompanied by former EU Commissioner Vladimír Špidla, who now manages the team of advisors to Prime Minister Sobotka, and by Václav Velčovský, the Director of the Public Service Department.

All three meetings with the Commission's representatives, namely Hubert Gambs, Catherine Day, and Commissioner Lászlo Andor, focused on the current status of the adoption of an amendment to the Civil Service Act and on clarifying the positions of both the Czech Republic the European Commission with regard to some unclear aspects of this piece of legislation.

Prague and Brussels are finishing the negotiation of a partnership agreement, which will serve as a basis for providing the Czech Republic with access to 22 billion euros in EU funding. The receipt of the funds, however, is conditional on the adoption of the Civil Service Act.

Brussels now has a week to submit comments because the law will be debated by the Czech Chamber of Deputies during an extraordinary session held on 15 July 2014.

According to Dienstbier, the Commission demands that the legislation contain a minimum amount of exemptions and that its impact be as broad as possible. "The Commission has very clearly stated that apart from ministries and central administrative authorities, the law must also apply to institutions that act as intermediaries in arranging access to EU funds," he told the Czech TV upon returning from Brussels yesterday. That however, goes beyond the public administration, as the law would have to apply to such organizations as CzechInvest or the State Environmental Fund. The Commission considers it very important that the law will cover individuals who take part in the administration of EU subsidies.

According to Dienstbier, the much debated and needed Civil Service Act will concern some 75 thousand public servants. The Cabinet will be informed of its financial impact within two weeks.

Dienstbier estimates that hundreds of millions will be necessary to rectify the remuneration system in Czech bureaucracy. "Even though a large number of government employees meet the qualification and length-of-service requirements to be classified in a higher tariff bracket, their wages have not increased," he explained to Czech Television.

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