European Commission to decide whether proceedings against Czech Republic over Roma discrimination will continue
in the schools. EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová made the announcement in an interview with the Czech media yesterday.
"We want to see actual numbers, progress in this matter, not just what the law includes so far, which is how it looks now," the Commissioner noted. Should the Commission ultimately really decide to launch the next phase of the proceedings, the Czech Republic should receive a certain amount of time to correct the unsatisfactory state of affairs.
If nothing changes after that, the Commissioner reminded the press that the matter could theoretically end up before the European Court of Justice. The Czech Republic is the first country against which the Commission has begun such proceedings over the discrimination of Romani people.
On Wednesday the EU executive also launched an infringement proceedings against Slovakia in the same matter. The Commission usually publishes a monthly announcement of the steps it is taking against Member States whose legislation is not in accordance with EU rules.
Amnesty International also pointed out last week in a new report that discrimination of Romani people in the schools is persisting. That report was rejected by Czech Education Marcel Chládek as biased, counterproductive, and factually incorrect.
Chládek emphasized in his response that he believes the Czech education system is not set up in such as way as to discriminate against anyone. He considers the cases in which children's rights to equal access to education have been violated to have been isolated incidents.
The minister also claims the EU has acknowledged that the Czech Republic has made progress in this area. The Commission launched its proceedings against the Czech Republic at the end of last September, when it asked Prague to provide information about the allegations of ongoing discrimination.
"We are already at the very end of our evaluation of the Czech response," Jourová said yesterday. She also said it is clear what must happen to correct the unsatisfactory situation in the schools.
"Romani children should get the chance to have the same education as other children," the Commissioner emphasized. Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier mentioned during his March visit to Brussels that part of the Czech solution to the issue is an amendment to the Schools Act that will require one year of preschool education as of 2017 and that the Government adopted its Romani Integration Strategy to 2020 in February.
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