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European Commission launches infringement proceedings against Hungary over discrimination of Romani children

28.5.2016 9:50
EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels (PHOTO: Sébastien Bertrand, Wikimedia commons)
EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels (PHOTO: Sébastien Bertrand, Wikimedia commons)

On 26 May the European Commission (EC) called on Hungary to stop discriminating against Romani children in education and to adjust its laws accordingly. The Commission made the announcement within the framework of its regular review of transgressions committed by Member States against EU legislation.

"Discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin in education is unacceptable under EU law," EC spokesperson Christian Wigand said. The Commission has officially contacted Budapest with a warning over the situation.

Hungary now has two months to respond. The move is the first in a proceedings of several phases that theoretically could end up before the European Court of Justice.

Wigand said similar letters were sent by the EU executive in September 2014 to the Czech Republic and in April 2015 to Slovakia. "Both of those countries adapted their legislation during 2015," he said.

The EC spokesperson went on to say that the Commission is following the situation in the Czech Republic, which has pledged to undertake changes. A similar approach is currently being negotiated with Slovakia as well, Wigand reports.

According to the press release, the Commission is bothered by many specific points related both to the form of the laws in Hungary and to "administrative practices", both of which allegedly lead to a disproportionately high share of Romani children attending separate schools for children living with mental disabilities and, to a significant degree, also to ethnically segregated instructed in mainstream schools. The purpose of this step, according to the Commission, is to attempt to secure proper access to mainstream education for Romani children, as that is a basic factor in their making themselves useful on the labor market in future.

translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Děti, Diskriminace, European Commission, Hungary



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