Final Word from Tuesday, December 1, 2009

To properly clean the Augean stables at ČEZ would require throwing dozens of politicians, businessmen and civil servants into prison. It seems unlikely that EU antitrust officials will go this far, because of the political implications. The Czech Establishment would take to the warpath against Brussels, and President Václav Klaus would start a new round of anti-EU agitation. Instead, EU officials will likely seek a deal that achieves specific competition goals in the energy sector but that fails to address some of the key underlying problems. Brussels could impose a fine, require ČEZ to give up some of its reserved grid capacity to Czech Coal, or enforce an asset swap between the two rival companies. Brussels will probably stop short of cracking open the all-powerful cartel that includes ČEZ, Appian, Škoda Holding, Czech Railways and DP Praha. We probably won't learn if Russian ownership at Appian/Škoda is the glue keeping the cartel together. Simple consumers and taxpayers shouldn't expect things on their level to change much.[Czech Republic Dopravní podnik European Union]

Glossary of difficult words

Augean stables - very dirty stables that were cleaned by Hercules by diverting two rivers though them; Mirek Topolánek promised a cleaning of the Augean stables in late-2008;

implications - a likely consequence of something;

Establishment - a group in society exercising power and influence and resisting change;

to take to/go on the warpath - to take an angry and aggressive stance in a conflict or dispute;

grid - the electricity network;

asset swap - the exchange of one asset for another.

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