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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(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1746 [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1402 [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1200 [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 July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission did not foresee any major problems in the field of research and technological development.

The November 1998 Report noted that certain progress had been made in this field.

The October 1999 Report also emphasised that progress had been made in the area of research and technological development, the Czech Republic having been fully associated with the fifth Framework Programme. No legislative progress had been recorded in the telecommunications sector, however, and major efforts were required. Policies and programmes were continuing to be developed in the field of the Information Society.

The 2000 Report noted the significant progress made since the previous year. Overall progress since 1994 showed that Czech telecommunications policy had developed in line with Community practice.

The October 2002 Report emphasised the progress made in the field of research with the adoption, in March 2002, of the Act on State support to research and technological development. The report also emphasised the appreciable progress made by the Czech Republic in terms of liberalising the telecommunications market.

The November 2003 Report points out that the Czech Republic is partially meeting the commitments arising from the accession negotiations in the telecommunications area. It is essentially meeting the requirements concerning postal services. In the area of science and research, the Czech Republic will be in a position to implement the acquis as from accession.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

Research and technological development (RTD) activities at Community level, as provided for in Article 164 of the EC Treaty (former Article 130G) and the framework programme (Article 166, former Article 130I), are aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life, as well as supporting sustainable development and contributing to the development of other Community policies.

The European Association Agreement between the European Union and the Czech Republic provides for cooperation in these areas, notably through the participation of the associated State in the framework programme. The White Paper on the countries of central and eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995) includes no direct measures in this field.

The aim of Community telecommunications policy is to remove barriers to the proper functioning of the single market in equipment, services and telecommunications networks, to open up foreign markets to Community companies and to make modern, accessible services available to EU nationals and companies. These aims are to be achieved by harmonising standards and requirements for the provision of services, opening up the terminals, services and networks markets and adopting the necessary regulations.

The Europe Agreement stipulates that the improvement of standards and practices in the field of telecommunications and postal services, standardisation, regulations and infrastructure modernisation to Community level must be achieved by means of cooperation. The White Paper places emphasis on the alignment of regulations, networks and services and the measures to be taken for the gradual liberalisation of the sector.

EVALUATION

Science and research

With regard to research and technological development, the present Community acquis does not require transposition into national law. Since 1999, the Czech Republic has been participating in the Fifth Framework Programme and in the Fifth Euratom Framework Programme of research and training activities (1). In preparation for this, a number of implementing structures have been established. The Czech Republic has also decided to open its corresponding research activities to enterprises, researchers and universities from the Member States. State support for research was increased to 0.6% of GDP in 2000, 0.65% in 2001 and 0.7% in 2002. The main development in this field in 2002 concerns the Act on State Support to Research and Technological Development, which was adopted in March 2002 and entered into force in July 2002. The Act provides for the allocation of public funds to research and development, outlines the rights and duties of private and legal entities dealing with research and development, establishes an evaluation system, and lays down the tasks and obligations of the relevant government bodies.

The Commission's 2003 report points out that the Czech Republic has met the commitments arising from the accession negotiations in the area of science and research and will therefore be in a position to implement the acquis as from accession

Telecommunications

In the telecommunications sector, a new act came into force in July 2000 which will be the basis for the transposition of the Community acquis. There are, however, some reservations regarding the degree of separation between telecommunications service providers and the State. Concerning liberalisation of the telecommunications market, significant progress was made with the introduction of the carrier selection facility in 2002. The Czech Telecommunications Office has granted prefixes to all operators that intend to enter the market in July 2002. The legal framework for the number portability facility is set in the Telecommunications Act, but it is due to be provided only from January 2003. The Office drew up a re-numbering plan, which was implemented in September 2002.

The 2002 report observes that competition is strong in mobile services, where the penetration rate reached 70%. The mobile sector has become a direct competitor to the incumbent's fixed network service. There are three GSM operators, and the government has granted two out of the three available Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) licences, so that UMTS operations can begin when market conditions permit.

Increased competition in fixed network services has been made possible by big improvements in speed of delivery of interconnection, the level of interconnection prices and access to carrier selection facilities. In August 2002, the government decided to privatise the State's majority stake in the incumbent dominant operator, Cesky Telekom. This should help to improve the competitive environment.

In 2003, the Czech Republic's legislation is mostly in line with the acquis adopted in the 1998-2000 period, except for the cost-orientation of certain prices which continue to hamper the full liberalisation of the market. Moreover, the 2002 acquis concerning the introduction of a new regulatory framework for electronic communications has not yet been transposed into Czech legislation.

Postal services

As regards postal services, the Czech Republic has made good progress as regards the level of alignment with the acquis, with the entry into force in July 2000 of a new law and the adoption of the relevant implementing decrees. The administrative capacity in this sector needs to be further strengthened, notably through further staffing and training. Universal services also need to be defined more clearly.

Information technologies

Regarding the information society, the government approved a policy document in May 1999 aimed at building a highly developed information society, including the right of direct access to information. It identifies priority areas and sets specific tasks to be achieved for each of these areas. There are no specific budgetary provisions. In March 2002, the Czech Government adopted an updated action plan as part of its national information policy so as to bring its objectives closer to those of eEurope 2002. It includes a list of information society projects which public administration services are to implement.

(1) Decision of the EU-Czech Republic Association Council of 30 July 1999 adopting the terms and conditions for the participation of the Czech Republic in Community programmes in the field of research, technological development and demonstration (1998 to 2002) and in programmes for research and training activities (1998 to 2002).

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

 
Last updated: 04.02.2004
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