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The Czech Republic

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2009 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 708 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 503 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 703 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1200 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the Commission took the view that if the Czech Republic were to pursue its efforts, it should be able to take on the obligations of EU membership in the social area in the medium term.

The November 1998 Report did not represent any significant change from this initial evaluation, no progress having been made in this area.

The October 1999 Report noted that the Czech Government had adopted a certain number of measures in the field of employment policy, but also that the transposition of the acquis had not progressed as hoped.

The October 2000 Report noted that the Czech authorities had redoubled their efforts to transpose Community legislation. Labour law and equal opportunities benefited from this development. There were still some shortcomings in the areas of health and safety at work and public health.

The 2003 Report states that the Czech Republic basically meets the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the fields of labour law, equality of treatment between men and women, the social dialogue, public health, employment policy, social insertion and social protection, and that it should be in a position to implement this acquis as from accession.

Besides, the Czech Republic meets most of the membership criteria in the fields of health and safety at work, the European Social Fund, and combating discrimination. In order to complete its preparation for membership, the Czech Republic should devote some additional effort to these sectors.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

In the social affairs field, apart from the various specific action programmes, such as those in the area of public health, and the European Social Fund, EU legislation covers health and safety at work, labour law and working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women, coordination of social security schemes for migrant workers, and tobacco products.

In all these areas, the EU's social legislation lays down minimum requirements, accompanied by safeguard clauses for the most advanced Member States.

In addition, the consultation of the social partners and the social dialogue at European level are enshrined in Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty (ex-Articles 118a and 118b).

EVALUATION

In 1999, the unemployment rate rose to 8.7% (from 6.5% in 1998). It fell in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and was down to 7.3% in 2002. However, the trend was reversed during the first quarter of 2003. Official unemployment remains high. Major regional differences exist and the unemployment rate of women is higher than that of men.

In May 1999, The Government adopted a National Employment Plan outlining its policy in the pre-accession period. This plan took into account the Community guidelines in this area. The joint evaluation of employment policy priorities was signed in May 2000.

The 2003 report confirms that the Czech Republic will have to strive to implement the objectives identified in the framework of the joint evaluation of employment policy priorities. It will have to devote more effort to reforming the education system, to vocational training, to job creation and to reinforcing the Public Employment Office.

In May 1999, the Government approved its "Medium-Term Economic Strategy of Accession to the European Union", focusing on the principles of solidarity and the interdependence of economic and social policies to support competitiveness. In June 1999, certain measures were taken to improve the labour market situation and address the problem of persons experiencing particular difficulties finding employment, especially Roma. These measures provide for an additional 15 million to fund active employment policies, more staff at labour offices and the introduction of visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals. The 2003 report states that the Czech Republic will have to devote more effort to developing a structure of employment incentives for Roma.

As regards the social dialogue, the 2000 report pointed out that trade union participation was very low (30%) and the question of how to represent workers in enterprises with no trade unions remained very sensitive. The report also recalled that the bipartite dialogue needed to be improved by reinforcing intermediary and enterprise level structures.

The 2003 report mentions the same problems and suggests that the social partners be granted greater negotiation powers on the basis of collective autonomy, with a view to progressively extending the scope of the social dialogue both from the viewpoint of the labour force and the undertakings which are involved in collective agreements. Besides, particular attention should be paid to the development of independent social dialogue in the public sector.

In 2002, no new legislation had been adopted in the area of equal treatment apart from an amendment to the employment law. On the other hand, on the eve of accession the 2003 report confirms that the Czech Republic has transposed almost all the legislation relating to equality of treatment between men and women and that in general the legislation is in line with the acquis. As regards equality of access to employment, the Czech Republic still has to adopt effective sanctions against discrimination. It is also necessary to provide for a mandatory period of maternity leave for pregnant women and to adopt a specific clause to protect workers benefiting from parental leave against dismissal.

The 2003 report states that, as regards combating discrimination, the government has decided to adopt a new law to transpose the acquis in this area. However the Czech Republic will have to continue to align its legislation and to set up a body responsible for equality issues as required by the Community acquis. As regards the situation of the Roma minority, the problem of discrimination and multifaceted social inclusion remains a source of concern (high rate of unemployment and discriminatory hiring practices).

As regards health and safety at work, the Czech Parliament rejected the draft Law on the Protection of Public Health in June 1999. The only progress made was the adoption by the Czech Mining Office of a notice transposing the drilling industries directives and amendments to the existing notices to transpose the mineral extraction directives. In early 1999, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs established a unit dealing specifically with working conditions and health and safety at work. Enforcement of health and safety legislation continues to be hampered by the division of responsibilities between the Ministries of Health and Labour and their respective agencies. Since then these problems have been resolved and most of the relevant legislation has been transposed. The 2003 report states that supplementary legal adjustments are necessary to ensure compliance with the framework directive. Besides, the legislation will have to be transposed as regards requirements relating to the workplace, work equipment, temporary and mobile construction sites, workers exposed to risks linked to explosive atmospheres, medical treatment on board ship and work at a height.

Regarding the free movement of workers, legislation is partially in line with the acquis. However, further alignment will be necessary to enable EU nationals, for example, to work without permits and have access to the social and cultural advantages in line with Community legislation.

As regards the coordination of social security schemes, further effort is necessary to upgrade and improve structures, procedures and institutions to meet the requirements of the acquis.

The law on the protection of public health was adopted in July 2000. The 2003 report states that the Czech Republic recently adopted legislation with a view to transposing the new acquis on tobacco. The system of monitoring, preventing and combating communicable diseases is now in line with the acquis. The Czech Republic also has the necessary capacity to adopt the EU's surveillance structures designed to combat communicable diseases. Besides it has been participating in Community programmes to promote health, to combat cancer, to prevent AIDS and drug addiction since 2000. During 2004 particular attention will be paid to improving the health status of the population and expenditure in the health field.

As regards the European Social Fund (ESF) the administrative capacity devoted to the management and implementation of actions under this fund has been enhanced in order to ensure effective utilisation.

In the course of 2004 the Commission and the Czech Republic must finalise the Joint Memorandum on Social Inclusion, which identifies key challenges and possible policy orientations for promoting social inclusion. On this basis, a national integrated strategy and a National Action Plan on social inclusion will have to be developed.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document

Last updated: 13.01.2004
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