UK-CZECH ACTION PLAN
The UK is strongly committed to the early accession
of the Czech Republic to the EU and to supporting the Czech Republic
in the associated process of reform. This Action Plan sets out
a range of practical UK initiatives to further these aims over
the next 12 months. It is the result of discussion between the
two Governments and is being launched on the occasion of the visit
of the British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, to Prague on 26
Commercial relations between the two countries
will be vigorously developed, on the basis of the principles of
transparency and an open market. Through co-operation between
the two countries' Embassies, two-way trade and investment will
be actively encouraged. The United Kingdom's "Opportunity
Czech Republic" campaign, in which the British Government
is co-operating closely with CzechInvest, is raising awareness
of the opportunities for commercial partnership between British
and Czech companies through a programme of events, including,
an all-British Trade Fair, "Britain
means Business", in Prague on 24-26 October;
12 regional seminars in the UK explaining
to UK companies the opportunities that exist in the Czech Republic;
groups of British companies exhibiting
at Trade Fairs in the Czech Republic during 2000, including EnviBrno
and MSV, and four trade missions in September-December;
regional commercial events in Ostrava,
Brno and Olomouc exploring ways to boost ties between British
companies and companies in Moravia.
The Lord Mayor of London launched a seminar
on Public-Private Partnerships when he visited Prague in May 2000.
This will be followed up through contacts between the British
Embassy and British Invisibleson behalf of the UK Financial
Services Industryand appropriate Czech partners.
As part of the EC Twinning Programme, the British
Department of Trade and Industry, working with Sheffield Hallam
University, are delivering a project to strengthen Czech competitiveness
and so boost the Czech Republic as a venue for foreign investment.
A British Adviser will start work in Prague on this later this
Through the Department of International Development's
(DFID's) Know How Fund, Britain has a long-term programme of support
for the Czech Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). British
support in this sector will continue. The Chairman of the SEC
recently visited London as a guest of the British government to
meet British regulatory bodies, including the FSA, and lay the
basis for long-term co-operation between the two regulators.
A seminar on Corporate Governance is planned
for October 2000. This will concentrate on British experience
of implementing the QECD's corporate governance guidelines. A
follow-up event, a year later, will be organised within the framework
of Transparency International's major conference in Prague in
Corporate governance was a main theme of the
Lord Mayor of London's visit to Prague in May 2000. He also helped
to publicise the Memorandum of Understanding between the London
and Prague Stock Exchanges, which was signed earlier the same
month. This MOU provides for sharing of information and links
between the exchanges' self-regulatory bodies.
Within the framework of the EC Twinning Programme,
a long-term expert from HM Customs and Excise will work to develop
policies relating to direct taxation. Also, the Czech Finance
Ministry has requested short-term assistance from British regulators
in telecommunications, consumer protection, state financial control
and capital markets. An introductory visit from the British telecoms
regulator Oftel has already taken place.
Also under the Twinning Programme, the UK's
National Crime Squad is working as a partner in a project helping
the fight against financial crime.
The United Kingdom will also explore the scope
of helping the Czech Republic to address the problems of regulating
the advanced and sophisticated financial sector, through the provision
of assistance to the Ministry of Finance and other financial institutions.
David Blunkett and Vladimir Spidla signed a
Joint Statement on Co-operation between the British Department
for Education and Employment (DfEE) and the Czech Ministry of
Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA) in June 1999.
Under the joint statement, four Czech officials
took part in a study visit earlier this year to look at employment
issues relating to Czech Roma. Two further study visits will take
place later this year.
DfEE has won a Phare-funded twinning project
to work with MOLSA on the development of the Czech National Employment
Action plan and on issues relating to the European Social Fund.
The detailed project covenant is currently being developed, and
the 15-month project should be launched in October 2000. In a
separate twinning project, the Health and Safety Executive will
work to develop best practice in health and safety at work.
The DfID Know How Fund's main activity in the
Czech Republic is a major project with the Ministry of Labour
and Social Affairs. This will include a root-and-branch review
of the delivery of social services, introduce standardisation
in these services, and an institutional review of the Ministry
of Labour and Social Affairs. Deputy Prime Minister Spidla's visit
to Britain in 1999 and the visit of Angela Eagle from the Department
of Social Security to Prague provided impetus for this work in
June 2000, when the project was officially launched.
Within the framework of the European Commission's
Twinning" Programme, a specialist from the Environment Agency
will work in Prague on a long-term placement designed to prepare
the Czech Republic for implementation of EU water directives.
A significant programme of bilateral assistance
complements this work. Following discussions with the Czech Ministry
of the Environment, a number of projects have been identified
and are currently under preparation. These include assistance
to the Czech Ministry of Environment in preparing for the implementation
of the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) directive,
developing strategies for investment into environmental infrastructure,
and supporting national and local Agenda 21 initiatives. We are
also pursuing possibilities in the area of solid waste management,
and projects that would complement the current EU twinning project
on EC water directives.
In addition, the British Department for the
Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) plans to provide
assistance to the Czech Government on three transport-related
planning a rail connection between
Prague airport and the city centre.
One of the most important tasks in preparing
for EU membership is to build the relevant administrative structures
to handle implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy. To
this end, a group of experts from the Ministry of Agriculture
of the Czech Republic visited the British Ministry of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food and the Intervention Agency in Newcastle. The
visit focused on administration and intervention methods in dairy
production, such as milk quota agreements. Intensive collaboration
between relevant administrative bodies in the Czech Republic and
Great Britain is planned in future, in particular in respect of
the activities of the newly established State Agricultural Intervention
Fund under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic.
This fund will take over the functions of an intervention agency,
operating under the rules of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Following the visit of the Lord Chancellor,
enhanced co-operation in these areas is planed. A High Court Judge
will come to Prague for three months to recommend improvements
in the functioning of Commercial Law. The establishment of a British/Czech
legal centre is also planned.
Within the framework of the European Commission's
twinning programme, a specialist from the Forensic Science Service
will work in Prague on a long-term placement, the aim of which
is to establish a DNA database within the Czech police's organised
The UK has a long-term programme of assistance
and advice from the Metropolitan Police and other forces, to help
the Czech police in the fight against xenophobia. Britain is also
funding training courses at the Czech National Police Academy
for applicants from ethnic minorities, to help to improve their
chances of joining the Czech police.
Following a successful seminar organised by
the Home Office in October 1999, we are now in the process of
drawing up plans for a follow-up seminar to assist the Czech police
in developing effective relations with the Roma community.
The UK is working closely with the Czech Government
Office, as it establishes the office of the Ombudsman. This assistance
has involved a study tour for the key official tasked with setting
up the office, and training in Britain for officials who will
Much work is being done in the field of minority
rights. A major project is taking place in the city of Pardubice,
where a British Race Equality officer has helped to develop equal
opportunities policy for the city. This will be the first policy
of its kind in the Czech Republic. At the central government level,
there are close ties between the Commission for Racial Equality
and the Czech Government Office, which have been established during
visits in both directions for key officials. Work in developing
employment opportunities for Roma is also on going.
As part of the EC Twinning Programme, a British
official has been seconded to the Czech Ministry of Finance to
help them develop their State Aid system. This project began in
October 1999 and will last for two years. The Civil Service College
is active in the Czech Republic, both in delivery of Phare contracts
and in bilateral work. It has been involved in a series of seminars
with the Czech Public Administration Reform team. The British
Council has also contributed fully to the reform of Czech public
administration, notably by hosting a series of public policy debates
on matters of general interest. The theme of these debates in
2000 is "informing the citizen" focusing on freedom
of information and the role of the media, as well as electronic
The Scottish Executive is leading on a complex
Twinning Project aimed at preparing the Czech administration for
receiving EU Structural Funds. Scottish Finance Minister Jack
MacConnell visited Prague to launch this project.
The Department for the Environment, Transport
and the Regions is exploring with Czech officials ways it might
support Czech local and regional government, in the light of current
reforms, by building UK/Czech relationships at the regional and
local level and exchanging experience and ideas.
From 1999, the budget for the British government's
prestigious "Chevening Scholarships" programme has been
increased. This programme includes the "Chevening European
Fellowships" programme, under which selected Czech government
officials are trained in EU law and practice.
The British Council will maintain its high profile
in the Czech Republic. Its main building in Prague and seven regional
resource centres enable it to promote best practice in English
Language Teaching to assist the continuing improvement of English
language in schools. The Council's long-term programme of cultural
events and exchanges continues to flourish.
Britain took the initiative in beginning bilateral
and multilateral consultations with the Czech Government about
the European Strategic Defence Initiative, recognising that as
a new member of NATO and a prospective member of the EU, the Czech
Republic has an important role in the development of policy in
The defence relationship will continue to develop,
in Prague, London and Brussels. A new level of co-operation will
be reached when a British Military Advisory and Training Team
is located in Vyskov, Moravia, from September. In addition, a
British adviser works with the Chief of the General Staff, and
Czech officers are trained every year in Britain. Czech policemen
destined to work in Kosovo are trained in English by the British
Council as are Czech military personnel from units assigned to
NATO, and for deployment in the Balkans. The Czech Foreign Ministry's
European Correspondent will have a week's work attachment in London
The two governments also warmly welcome the
development of parliamentary contracts and stand ready to help
and facilitate these where appropriate. The House of Lords Committee
for the European Union has held a seminar in Prague to inform
the Czech Senate's EU Committee about scrutinising EU legislation.
The EC Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons visited Prague
in July. The Czech Senate has invited the House of Lords Committees
on the Economy, Agriculture and Transport to visit Prague. In
the opposite direction, the Czech Lower House's sub-committee
on prisons visited Britain in June.
This Action Plan provides the basis for ongoing
cooperation between the UK and the Czech Republic for years to
come. It will be reviewed and updated regularly with that in mind.