Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2004 final - Not published in the Official Journal];
Commission Report [COM(98) 703 final - Not published in the Official Journal];
Commission Report [COM(1999) 511 final - Not published in the Official Journal];
Commission Report [COM(2000) 711 final - Not published in the Official Journal];
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1209 - Not published in the Official Journal].
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]
In its Opinion of July 1997, the Commission noted that, although Slovakia had taken some significant steps since 1993, social reforms needed to be further developed, the social dialogue had to be strengthened and the health system improved. It also affirmed that Slovakia had to make substantive progress in the fields of health and safety at work and labour law to ensure alignment with Community standards and concluded that this country could meet the requirements for EU membership in the medium term, provided it followed up the major efforts it had already initiated.
The November 1998 Report ascertained that some headway had been made in the field of labour law (notably as regards equal opportunities) and health and safety at work. However, no progress was made in enforcing this legislation and the social dialogue had come to a standstill. In the meantime the social dialogue has been resumed and the situation has improved. A tripartite law on economic and social partnership entered into effect in June 1999 and a general tripartite agreement was signed in 2000.
The November 2000 Report noted that Slovakia was making headway, notably in the field of labour legislation.
The 2003 report noted that Slovakia was essentially meeting the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the areas of labour law, equal treatment of women and men, heath and safety at work, social dialogue, employment policy, combating social exclusion and social protection. It was expected to be in a position to implement the acquis in these areas upon accession.
Slovakia was partially meeting the accession requirements in the areas of public health, the European Social Fund and anti-discrimination. It would have to make further efforts in these areas.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.
In the social affairs field, apart from the various specific action programmes, such as those in the area of public health, and the European Social Fund, EU legislation covers health and safety at work, labour law and working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women, coordination of social security schemes for migrant workers, and tobacco products.
In all these areas, the EU's social legislation lays down minimum requirements, accompanied by safeguard clauses for the most advanced Member States.
In addition, the consultation of the social partners and the social dialogue at European level are enshrined in Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty (ex-Articles 118a and 118b).
After the July 1997 Opinion there was an upsurge in unemployment, from 11.8% in 1997 to over 16% in 1999. In 2000 it was 18.7%, and in 2001 reached 19.4%. The trend seems to be reversing itself: unemployment is falling but remains high. It fell from 18.6% in 2002 to 17.7% in the first half of 2003.
The 2003 report called for further efforts on employment policy to effectively implement the priorities identified in the Joint Assessment of Employment Priorities (JAP) more coherently and effectively. It stressed that it was important to improve employment rates, in particular for women and older workers, and to address regional imbalances. The reform of the education and training systems, including the lifelong learning system, needed to be accelerated.
The 2003 report noted that the development of administrative structures for managing the European Social Fund (ESF) had been delayed and required sustained attention. In general, there was concern about the preparedness of the regional administration in particular to ensure proper implementation of the ESF programmes.
An act was adopted in 1997 in the field of health and safety at work, but its enforcement leaves much to be desired. The October 1999 Report noted that there was urgent need to make legislative headway in this area. The Commission report of November 2000 again called on Slovakia to make headway in this area.
The 2003 report noted that most of the legislation had been adopted and was expected to be in force by the time of accession. However, some adjustments were still needed to ensure correct transposition of the acquis, in particular the framework Directive (protective and preventive services, information, training and consultation of workers) and the Directive on mobile and/or temporary construction sites.
The authorities responsible for the enforcement of health and safety legislation were in place, but further reinforcement was needed in terms of both staffing and technical facilities.
The Slovak Republic is relatively advanced as regards equal treatment of women and men. Progress has been made in the field of equal opportunities - for instance, the total ban on night work for women has been repealed. In April 1998 another amendment was adopted providing for equal pay. In 1997 the government adopted a National Action Programme for Women and an Equal Opportunities Centre was created with a view to promoting research and information. In August 1999 the social security legislation was amended, repealing the provision that benefits be paid exclusively to the mother.
On the eve of accession Slovakia had transposed all the necessary legislation in the field of equal treatment of women and men. However, some legal adjustments were still needed to achieve full alignment.
The 2003 reported noted that most of the EC legislation in the field of labour law had been correctly transposed into Slovak law, especially after the adoption, in May 2003, of new amendments to the Labour Code.
Transposition of legislation was still required in the areas of working time for seafarers and mobile workers in civil aviation. Transposition of legislation on the new acquis concerning the involvement of workers in the European Company should take place after accession.
On the eve of accession the administrative framework for social dialogue was in place, but the system still needed gradual improvement. In particular, autonomous bipartite social dialogue needed to be promoted in order to increase the number of workers and businesses covered by collective agreements.
In the field of public health, the legislative transposition of the tobacco acquis remained to be completed. As regards surveillance and control of communicable diseases, further measures were needed to bring capacity up to EC requirements in this field. Particular attention should be paid to the improvement of the health status of the population and to health expenditure.
In the course of 2004 the Commission and Slovakia needed to finalise the Joint memorandum on Social Inclusion, which identifies key challenges and possible policy orientations for promoting social inclusion. On this basis, a national integrated strategy and a National Action Plan on social inclusion would have to be developed.
In the field of social protection, sustained efforts were required to implement the reforms that had been introduced, including the health care reform and pension reform.
Lastly, EC anti-discrimination legislation had been only very partially transposed, especially as regards sexual orientation, disability and race or ethnic origin. Slovak legislation still had to be fully aligned with the acquis and the equality body required by the acquis was still to be established. Despite sustained efforts, the situation of the Roma minority remained very difficult (discrimination in education and in access to employment, justice and public services). Slovakia needed to considerably increase its efforts to remedy this situation.
This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.