Sunday

26th May 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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.

Europol busts global cybercrime gang

A loose network of cyber criminals recruited from an online Russian forum managed to infect thousands of computers in an effort to steal online banking credentials. The gang has been dismantled, with some now on the run.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

EU justice 'barometer' hindered by data gaps

Some member states continue to impede the European Commission's annual attempt to define the state of Europe's justice system, by not providing data on their national situations.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  2. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  3. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  4. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  5. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  6. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  7. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  8. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us