Thursday

23rd Jan 2020

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".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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.

Thousands apply for EU border guard posts

Around 7,500 applications were sent to Frontex to fill 700 new border guard posts. The guards will become official EU staff and wear a yet to be unveiled 'European Union' uniform.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

Belgium, France, UK in EU court surveillance blow

Although non-binding, a critical opinion from the EU's top court could mean laws in Belgium, France and the UK allowing for the indiscriminate bulk collection of people's data may have to be eventually amended to respect EU privacy rules.

News in Brief

  1. UK watchdog unveils online child-privacy standards
  2. Alleged 'bully' nominated for EESC presidency
  3. Greens/EFA fail to agree on accepting Catalan MEPs
  4. MEPs approve over 55 gas projects for EU funding
  5. Italy deputy PM Di Maio quits as Five Star party leader
  6. EU investment bank to keep pressure on Turkey over gas
  7. 'Rare' migrant boat from Belgium to UK sinks
  8. First annual rule of law report expected this year, Reynders said

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail
  2. What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?
  3. EU commission 'lacks ambition' on future conference
  4. Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?
  5. Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe
  6. Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?
  7. US retiree, scammed by former EU official, awaits justice
  8. Vienna-Brussels night train returns amid EU green talk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us