Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Slovakia bans positive discrimination

Positive action providing advantages for people of an ethnic or racial minority group is to be banned in Slovakia, striking a blow against EU policy on the matter.

The country’s constitutional court ruled on Monday (18 October) that such favourable provisions clashed with the Slovak constitution, as they "violated full equality before the law".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Positive action has "violated full equality before the law", a Slovak court has said (Photo: European Commission)

In practical terms, the ruling means that measures such as preferential access to education or the requirement to hire a designated quota of minority group members, such as Roma, would be illegal.

End of a long dispute

The court’s decision put an end to a 15-month legal dispute between the Slovak government and the parliament, with the cabinet keen to dump Article 5 of the European Council Race Discrimination Directive.

The text allows the option of positive action and has been part of Slovak anti-discrimination law since July 2004.

The final verdict is seen as a victory for the governmental Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), which had at first opposed the entire anti-discrimination package.

Led by justice minister Daniel Lipsic, the Christian Democrats said that special assistance may be linked "only to social conditions, never to racial or ethnic origin".

"We need to get rid of building stereotypes based on race and ethnicity".

Roma angered

But Roma representatives called the legal ruling a "tragedy", saying it could slow-down existing anti-discrimination projects.

"Positive action is meant to be a temporary tool to improve Roma’s start-up line", said the Slovak Government's envoy for Roma minority issues.

Up to 500,000 Roma are estimated to live in Slovakia, many of them still facing segregation and disadvantaged conditions in housing, education and employment.

End of story?

The sudden red light to positive discrimination in Slovakia is also a blow to Brussels' efforts to promote the idea of social inclusion.

Although not required to, member states are encouraged to take steps to ensure equal opportunities.

"It is definitely important to include minorities into society and prevent certain areas from becoming ghettos", the commission’s spokesperson for social matters said.

The Czech Republic and the Netherlands are amongst those EU countries to have introduced measures of positive action, ranging from increasing the chances of Roma to find work to financial incentives offered to companies to hire immigrants.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

Investigation

EU states copy Israel's 'predictive policing'

Israelis are using social profiling and predictive policing, also known as 'Facebook arrests', to crack down on suspects in Palestinian territories. National authorities in the EU, including the EU's police agency, Europol, are now applying the tactics closer to home.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe