Slovenia

   

Social Policies

#16
Key Findings
Showing a mixed record, Slovenia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 16) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has gained 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Education-system outcomes are generally good, though the tertiary sector is underfunded. Spending on education has been increased, and a new high-education act will ease bureaucratic burdens and seek to close the gender gap. Income-inequality rates are low. Most crisis-era social-benefit cuts have now been reversed, and additional anti-poverty measures have been implemented.

A compulsory public health care system, supplemented by private insurance providers, offers generally good care but is financially troubled. An ongoing health-system reform campaign has been slowed by controversy and political conflict. Child care and parental-leave provisions are strong, and the employment rate for women is high.

A pension reform is underway that will raise the actual retirement age and index pension growth, while increasing minimum pension levels. The annual number of work permits issued has gone up following a crisis-era decline. Amendments to the law addressing refugees have been criticized internationally as denying rights guaranteed under international and EU law.

Education

#10

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
7
Slovenia has moved relatively rapidly from the socialist curriculum tradition toward a more flexible organization of education. With a high share of the population aged 25 to 64 having completed at least upper secondary education as well as high ranks in international educational achievement tests, the education system fares relatively well by international comparison. The most pressing problems remain the small (but slowly growing) share of pupils enlisted in vocational education, as well as a heavily underfunded tertiary-education system with high dropout rates and massive fictitious enrollment figures. Compared to previous governments, the Cerar government has devoted more attention to education policy. In September 2016, it announced increases in spending on education in 2017 and 2018, and in November 2016 parliament amended the Higher Education Act to make the higher education system more flexible, close the gender gap and ease bureaucratic burdens connected with internationalization processes. However, the implementation of the legislation through Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education is proceeding rather slowly.

Citations:
European Commission (2018): Country Report Slovenia 2018 Including an In-Depth Review on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances. SWD(2018) 222 final, Brussels, 35-36 (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2018-european-semester-country-report-slovenia-en.pdf).

OECD (2017): Economic Survey Slovenia. Paris, Chap. 1 (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-slovenia.htm).

Social Inclusion

#7

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
8
Slovenia has a strong tradition of social inclusion, with its Gini coefficient being the lowest among EU member countries. In the past, social policy focused on providing benefits to the elderly and to families with children. After the onset of the economic crisis, however, social disparities widened. The Fiscal Balance Act, adopted by the Janša government in May 2012, cut several social-benefit programs and reduced the generosity of social benefits for the unemployed. Since then, however, most of these cuts have been reversed. In autumn 2015, the Cerar government launched a new National Housing Program 2015-2025. In the period under review, improvements have been made on issues regarding poverty and social exclusion.

Health

#28

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
5
The Slovenian health care system is dominated by a compulsory public-insurance scheme. This scheme guarantees universal access to basic health services but does not cover all costs and treatments. In order to close this gap, citizens can take out additional insurance offered by Vzajemna, a mutual health insurance organization established in 1999, or, since 2006, additional insurance offered by two other commercial insurance companies. The quality of services, which are partly delivered by private providers and are organized locally, is relatively good and total health spending is well above the OECD average. However, both the compulsory public health insurance scheme and the supplementary health insurance funds have suffered from severe financial problems for some time, resulting in financial problems among the majority of health providers. Since 2015, several scandals about irregularities and corruption in procurement in hospitals have been reported.

Health care reform has featured prominently in the coalition agreement of the Cerar government, which promised to re-expand public scheme coverage and to delineate more clearly between standard and extra services. Despite many calls for reforms both inside and outside the governing coalition, however, the specification and implementation of the 2015 National Healthcare Plan has progressed slowly. At the beginning of 2017, Minister of Health Milojka Kolar Celarc eventually presented a reform proposal that called for the abolition of voluntary additional health insurance and the imposition of flat rate levies of between €20 and €75 per month. This proposal met strong criticism from various sides, including both social partners. Controversies with the trade unions were also prompted by an agreement between the government and the doctor’s trade union in March 2017. After six months of tough negotiations and industrial action by doctors, most demands made by the doctors – relating to working standards and wages – were met. The agreement was criticized by other trade unions, including those representing nurses, for destabilizing the public sector’s salary system. In July 2017, in an attempt to close an important gap in the Slovenian health care system, the government submitted to the public an act on long-term care that outlines a system of standardized care assessments and a list of services for the frail to be rolled out as of 2020.

Families

#7

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
9
The employment rate among women in Slovenia is above the EU average, and the employment rate of mothers with children under six is among the highest in the EU. Reconciling parenting and employment is facilitated by the fact that Slovenia provides childcare facilities that exceed the EU average and meets the Barcelona targets both for children under three years of age and between three and five years of age. Over the past ten years the number of children enrolled at nursery schools has increased by about 50%. While the incidence of part-time work is growing slowly, most women work full time. The New Parental and Family Benefit Act that came into force in 2014 extended the right to part-time work when having two children from six years of age until the end of first grade of primary school. At 105 working days, the maximum duration of maternity leave is near the European average. In addition, parents can take up to 260 days of parental leave, part of which is paid. The 2014 act also included a gradual reform of the additional, non-transferable paternity leave which was completed in the course of 2017. On the one hand, the overall number of days of paternity leave was reduced from 90 to 30. On the other, the number of days with full salary compensation was doubled from 15 to 30, so as to make taking paternity leave more attractive to men. In March 2017, a new Family Code replaced the old one from 1976. The amendment has aimed at improving legal certainty in decisions on marital and family disputes and at safeguarding the good of the child in standard as well as non-standard families.

Citations:
European Commission (2016): Slovenia: A dynamic family policy to improve work-life balance. Brussels (http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1248&langId=en&intPageId=3656).

Government of the Republic of Slovenia (2017): The family as an important foundation of education and well-being. Ljubljana, May 12, 2017 (http://www.vlada.si/en/media_room/government_press_releases/press_release/article/the_family_as_an_important_foundation_of_education_and_well_being_59786/).

Stropnik, N. (2018): Thirty days of (fully) compensated paternity leave in Slovenia from January 2018. European Social Policy Network, Flash Report 2018/7, Brussels.

Pensions

#20

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
7
Slovenia has a traditional pay-as-you-go (PAYG) pension system with modest pensions, whose intergenerational fairness and financial sustainability in the face of an aging society has suffered from a low employment rate for the elderly. A substantial pension reform was adopted in December 2012. This instituted a gradual increase in the full-retirement age to 65 for men and woman, or 60 for workers with at least 40 years of pensionable service. In addition, it introduced incentives for people to continue working after qualifying for official retirement and implemented changes to the pension formula that will slow future pension growth. The Cerar government has acknowledged the need for further changes but has been reluctant to come up with detailed reform proposals. In March 2016, the Ministry of Labor, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities presented a White Book on Pensions. Featuring a comprehensive analysis of the demographic projections and the long-term sustainability of the pension system as well as an overview of the different options, it was aimed at stimulating the debate and preparing the ground for a new reform consensus. In July 2017, building on the White Book, the government and the social partners, within the framework of the tripartite Economic and Social Council, agreed upon the broad outline of a pension reform to be adopted by 2020 that includes a 70% net replacement rate, raising the actual retirement age and an indexation rule that links the growth of pensions to wage growth and changes in consumer prices. Already in 2017, an amendment of the Pension and Disability Insurance Act, unanimously passed by parliament in April 2017, increased the minimum old-age and disability pension to €500 per month as from 1 October 2017 for pensioners meeting the full retirement conditions. According to estimates, around 52,000 pensioners will benefit from the amendment and will, on average, receive an additional €26 each month.

Citations:
European Commission (2018): Country Report Slovenia 2018 Including an In-Depth Review on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances. SWD(2018) 222 final, Brussels, 21-22 (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2018-european-semester-country-report-slovenia-en.pdf)

Government of the Republic of Slovenia (2017): National Reform Program 2017-18. Ljubljana (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2017-european-semester-national-reform-programme-slovenia-en.pdf).

Macjen, B. (2017): Slovenia increases minimum old-age and disability pension. European Social Policy Network, Flash Report 2017/53, Brussels.

Macjen, B. (2018): Slovenia has made another important step toward a new pension reform. European Social Policy Network, Flash Report 2018/15, Brussels.

Integration

#30

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
4
Successive governments have done little to foster the integration of migrants into society by opening up health services and schools, offering anti-discrimination support or encouraging political participation. In June 2015, however, the National Assembly adopted new legislation on foreign employment that improved protections for foreign workers employed in Slovenia, and as of 1 September 2015, foreign workers receive a unified work and residency permit. As a result of the economic crisis, the number of work permits for foreigners dropped from 85,000 in 2008 to a mere 7,033 in 2016 and began to increase once again – albeit slowly – in 2017, when 7,919 permits were issued already in the first eight months of the year. The Cerar government reacted to the inflow of almost 500,000 refugees from October 2015 to March 2016 by pushing for the closure of the Western Balkans route. It has also sought to reduce refugee protection by allowing for the rejection of migrants already at border crossings. The adopted amendments to the Aliens Act have been criticized by organizations such as Amnesty International, the Red Cross and Unicef for denying refugees rights guaranteed under international and EU law.

Citations:
Slovenian Times (2017): National Assembly passes aliens act amendments. January 27, 2017 (http://www.sloveniatimes.com/national-assembly-passes-aliens-act-amendments).

Safe Living

#9

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Safe Living Conditions
9
Actual and perceived security risks in Slovenia are very low. Trust in the police is below the EU average, but higher than in most other East-Central European countries. Slovenia’s accession to the Schengen group in December 2007 has resulted in a substantial professionalization of the Slovenian police force and border control. A six-month police strike that ended in June 2016 brought substantial increases in wages as a well as a commitment by the government to increase future spending on basic police equipment, and the effects of that commitment were evident in period under review, as the police received new equipment, such as radars and vehicles, to replace older models.

Citations:
European Commission (2017): Standard Eurobarometer 87. Brussels (http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2142).

Global Inequalities

#30

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
5
With EU accession in 2004, Slovenia’s status changed from donor to recipient of official development assistance. However, Slovenia has not been very active in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. The few initiatives that exist are mostly focused on the former Yugoslavia. The prevailing attitude is that Slovenia has its own measure of socioeconomic problems to tackle and that potential Slovenian international influence is negligible. Still, Slovenia’s official development assistance comes close to the EU target and has risen substantially in recent years.

Citations:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2017): International Development Cooperation of Slovenia. Ljubljana (www.mzz.gov.si/en/foreign_policy_and_international_law/international_development_cooperation_and_humanitarian_assistance/international_development_cooperation_of_slovenia/).

OECD (2017): Development Cooperation Report 2017: Slovenia. OECD: Paris, 126-129 (http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/development/development-co-operation-report-2017/slovenia_dcr-2017-37-en).
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