Friday

30th Jul 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe 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.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

News in Brief

  1. Officials worried at infection-surge on Greek holiday islands
  2. EU calls on online platforms to tackle vaccine hesitancy
  3. Russia accused of falling short on Sputnik V deliveries
  4. France: UK quarantine rules 'discriminatory'
  5. Italy's government reaches deal on judicial reform
  6. EU adopts guidelines to 'climate-proof' infrastructure projects
  7. US backs WHO plan for further Covid-origin investigation
  8. EU to buy 220,000 supplies of potential Covid treatment

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Malta responsible for journalist's death, inquiry finds
  2. Can Greece work with Biden to solve the West Balkans impasse?
  3. EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension
  4. Polish judges rally behind EU court ruling
  5. Why 'Fit for 55' isn't fit for purpose
  6. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  7. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  8. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us