Czech Republic: The Shape We're In | Annual conference 2016

The annual conference Czech Republic: The Shape We're In took place on November 10, 2016 at the National Gallery in Prague, Veletržní palác (Dukelských hrdinů 47, Prague 7). In collaboration with Forbes Czech Republic, we organized the second edition of the conference, which aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the political, economic and social development of the Czech Republic in a long-term perspective. We focused on the following areas: Governance, Quality of Life, National Security, Economic Potential, and Education.

Materials

  • Video stream from the conference by Czech television - Welcome address (0:00 – 13:15), Governance (13:15 – 80:40), Quality of life (80:48 – 153:20), Keynote by Bohuslav Sobotka (154:50 – 173:00), National security (173:25 – 248:20), Economic potential (248:30 – 320:30), Education (320:56 – 392:50), Conference closing (393:20 – 398:10)
  • The studies in Czech or in English (pdf)
  • Presentations in Czech: Governance (pdf), Quality of life (pdf), National security (pdf), Economic potential (pdf), Education (pdf)

Summaries

Governance

The general level of performance of the institutions of the Czech Republic within developed countries (OECD members) is not very satisfactory. The government, as a result of the elections for the Chamber of Deputies, has within the four-year election cycle only a short amount of time (about a year, max. two years) in which it can enforce radical policy changes. As a result, the government is generally stable but not very operational or progressive. Difficulties with the tangled legal system remain a persistent problem in the government. The complexity that has emerged in some areas of law such as with taxes, is alarming compared to other developed countries. The Czech justice system, as compared to other countries, is not dramatically slow but its weakness lies in the difficult, complex cases, in either criminal or civil law. Additionally, the stagnation of the digitalization of the government  is leading to the gradual decay of its  global competitiveness.

Quality of Life

In terms of satisfying the basic necessities for living, the Czech Republic is among the countries with the highest quality of life. On the other hand, respondents in the Czech Republic perceive a decreasing amount of space for exercising their abilities, performance and recognition of their merits. If the significance of connections and acquaintances is still more important for success than the abilities and talents, our talents will leave for opportunities abroad, which may ultimately have a major impact on quality of life in the Czech Republic. Similarly, the social consensus regarding the insufficiency of pensions continues to grow. Prospects for dignified retirement are related to the quality of life, and therefore the state strategically manage programs that ensure long-term success for the future. The study also reflects a growing sense of personal safety at the expense of personal freedom in countries with conservative immigration policy and anticipates difficult societal debates about the boundaries between ensuring security and personal freedom. The study includes, inter alia, a case study that reveals the need for interagency cooperation in addressing issues of mental health, which currently represents the largest socioeconomic burden for our society.

National Security

Although the Czech Republic is one of the safest countries in the world, it is expected that the security situation in Europe and its neighbourhood (and in the world generally) will continue to deteriorate in the following years. The lukewarm approach to  defence spending by the vast majority of European NATO members continues to undermine the relevance of the Alliance and the willingness of the United States to guarantee security on the European continent. If the unsystematic and populist parties, whose influence is growing as a result of the current immigration crisis continue to get into power in individual member states, the agility of NATO and the European Union may be paralyzed. The Czech Republic is currently ranked among countries with the lowest percentage of GDP expenditure on defence. The security situation could dramatically worsen over the next decade if we (and other Alliance and European Union countries as well) dol not  significantly raise  spending on our own security and do not start to take it seriously. Through our attitude we are weakening the commitment of Alliance members to come to each other's aid in times of immediate danger.

Economic Potential

According to recent data, the pace of economic growth in the Czech Republic this year dropped again to 2 %, recalling the sad reality of a  long non-converging economy that both doesn’t come close to the economic level of its western neighbours and is  being overtaken by its East European competitors. On the other hand, despite a number of problems and deteriorating conditions virtually in all monitored areas, the competitiveness of the Czech economy is still very high and i even  improved in some dimensions. The high competitiveness of the country leads the authors of the study to believe that it makes only a little sense to think that there is still great potential for targeted reform campaign. Instead, it seems more useful to focus on removing barriers to growth in other areas, such as the poor quality of the institutional environment and education system, lack of skilled labour or problems with the efficient mobilization and allocation of capital resources for domestic economic growth. The report also formulates so called “Easy Points” which shares its recommendations of areas to focus on within the reform agenda.

Education

Modern technology today can provide access to knowledge better than school itself and in the future this capability will continue to widen significantly. It also provides the adequate mediation of knowledge based on one’s individual capabilities and talents. Due to this,today’s high school and university graduates are going to be active members of society  for the next 60 years and during this period the world will transform in a way that is unpredictable , so it is necessary to rethink the composition of curriculum and teaching methods. Under the current legislation, it is possible to have director positions occupied by people who do not have the necessary skills to lead schools and who lack the vision that the current education system needs to  prepare children for life in a notably t world. It is therefore necessary to fill these  posts with properly qualified leaders and to raise the quality of education by considerably increasing salaries and allowing university graduates without pedagogical education to teach. Instead of expensive reforms, we should draw on inspiration from more advanced countries and apply solutions that are economical  and less time-consuming so they can initiate change more rapidly.

 

 

Program of the conference

                                                                

08:30 - 09:00 Registration

09:00 - 09:15 Welcome address 

  • Jiří Fajt, National Gallery
  • Ivan Hodáč, Aspen Institute Prague
  • Petr Šimůnek, Forbes Czech Republic

09:15 - 10:30 Governance 

  • Guarantor: Karel Šimka, Supreme Administrative Court 
  • Government representative: Robert Pelikán, Minister of Justice
  • Guests:  Petr Vokřál, Mayor of the City of Brno, Vladimír Dlouhý, Czech Chamber of Commerce
  • Host: Jan Pokorný, Czech Radio

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 - 12:15 Quality of life

  • Guarantor: Pavel Fischer, STEM
  • Government representative: Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková, Advisor to the Minister of Labor & Social Affairs
  • Guests: Hana Třeštíková, Councilor of Culture at Prague 7, Tomáš Salomon, Česká spořitelna, Tomáš Princ, Humans of Prague, Cooks Without Homes - Zuzana Kříčková, Eva Kundrátová, Helena Ogboi, Lenka Vrbová
  • Host: Nikita Poljakov, Hospodářské noviny

12:15-12:30 Keynote by Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic 

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch

13:30 - 14:45 National security

  • Guarantor:  Tomáš Pojar, CEVRO Institute
  • Government representative: Martin Stropnický, Minister of Defense
  • Guests: Martin Povejšil, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the EU, Václav Mach, Microsoft
  • Host: Zuzana Tvarůžková, Czech Television

14:45 – 16:00 Economic potential  

  • Guarantor:  David Vávra, OGResearch
  • Government representative: Pavel Bělobrádek, Deputy Prime Minister for Science, Research & Innovation
  • Guests: Daniel Beneš, ČEZ, Michal Stachník, Cisco
  • Host: Petr Šimůnek, Forbes Czech Republic

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee break

16:30 - 17:45 Education

  • Guarantor: Bohumil Kartous, EDUin, Tomáš Hruda, Education Republic
  • Government representative: Kateřina Valachová, Minister of Education
  • Guests: Tania le Moigne, Google Czech Republic, Petr Dvořák, Czech Television, Ondřej Liška, Ashoka CEE, Václav Pecha, Bakala foundation
  • Host: Petr Šimůnek, Forbes Czech Republic

17:45 - 18:00 Conference closing

  • Jiří Schneider, Aspen Institute Prague







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