Constitutional Court defies EU with ruling on Czech-Slovak pensions
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday made a landmark ruling regarding the difference in pensions between the Czech and Slovak Republic. Cases exist where Czechs who worked in the other half of Czechoslovakia now receive the lower pension rate of the Slovak Republic. According to the new decision of the court, such citizens never worked in a foreign country and thus are entitled to compensatory payments to raise their pensions to Czech standards. Among the chaos this creates for the Social Affairs Ministry now is that fact that the ruling directly contradicts the European Court of Justice.
After failing in both the district and Supreme Administrative courts to have recognised what he felt was a basic right, Mr Holubec turned to the constitutional bench, which at last on Tuesday confirmed that he had never been employed in a foreign country. Vlastimil Göttinger is the spokesman for the Constitutional Court.
The decision – for the first time ever – flies in the face of a decision of the European Court of Justice, which ruled last year that the practice of compensatory pensions for those who worked for companies based in the Slovakian half of Czechoslovakia but live in the Czech Republic was discriminatory. The Constitutional Court, somewhat brazenly, contested that the European justices had failed to take into consideration the unique history and consequential situation of citizens of their divided state.
Director of the social insurance systems department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Jiří Král, told Czech Radio the decision was incomprehensible.
At the same time he calls the ruling a “disaster of lesser proportions”: had the Constitutional Court reverted to a decision from 2010, that the state must pay pensions for all former state enterprises, the damage would have been in the hundreds of billions. As it is, the new situation creates new and possibly unforeseeable consequences.
How, exactly, the method of compensation will be reinstated in practical terms should be known by the end of the week.