EC: Programme "encouraging" but serious questions remain

ONNO Simons, advisor to the European Commission (EC) delegation in Bratislava told The Slovak Spectator that although the EC found the cabinet programme "encouraging, particularly in the economic sphere and the judiciary", several questions remain unanswered.
"The cabinet should be clearer about how the Roma issue is going to be tackled and who is going to be in charge," Simons said.
When The Slovak Spectator went to press, the cabinet had not agreed who would be responsible for dealing with this issue. Although the preliminary cabinet agreement suggested Roma issues would fall under the Culture Ministry, minister Rudolf Chmel seemed unwilling to take on that responsibility, claiming that he wanted to be responsible "only for that which belongs in the cultural agenda".

ONNO Simons, advisor to the European Commission (EC) delegation in Bratislava told The Slovak Spectator that although the EC found the cabinet programme "encouraging, particularly in the economic sphere and the judiciary", several questions remain unanswered.

"The cabinet should be clearer about how the Roma issue is going to be tackled and who is going to be in charge," Simons said.

When The Slovak Spectator went to press, the cabinet had not agreed who would be responsible for dealing with this issue. Although the preliminary cabinet agreement suggested Roma issues would fall under the Culture Ministry, minister Rudolf Chmel seemed unwilling to take on that responsibility, claiming that he wanted to be responsible "only for that which belongs in the cultural agenda".

The EC, Simons said, was also "looking for a clearer commitment to approving a general anti-discrimination law", which observers consider to be important to secure equal access to work and undiscriminatory treatment in the workplace.

The law in question was recently recommended for approval by the European Parliament's foreign committee, mainly for the positive effect it might have on the plight of Roma and other minorities.

In the past some political parties, such as the Christian Democrats (KDH), have opposed the passage of an anti-discrimination law.

The reasons for the KDH opposition are mainly ideological, as the party is concerned that gays and lesbians will fight to be protected by such a law. The KDH claims that homosexuals already enjoy equal rights in all spheres of life and that no special clause to protect them is necessary in an anti-discrimination law.

Another issue that Simons thought the cabinet needed to clarify was who would be the next coordinator of the cabinet's fight against corruption.

Under the previous cabinet Ivan Mikloš, the current Finance Minister, was responsible for the national anti-corruption plan, but it remains unclear who will take over the agenda under the new cabinet.

"Slovakia must bear in mind that corruption is one of the main issues that both the EU and Nato is going to be looking at closely," Simons said.

- Martina Pisárová

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