EU's Good Friday ruling gives Austria headache

Top court rules religious holiday as discriminatory

EU's Good Friday ruling gives Austria headache
A chapel is pictured in front of snow-covered mountains near the western Austrian village of Absam in 2012. Reuters/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) — So much for good intentions.

The top EU court told largely Catholic Austria on Tuesday that the extra religious holiday that it grants its Protestant minority on Good Friday is discriminatory.

Austria already has 13 national paid public holidays, lavish by European Union standards, most of them for religious feasts that are either exclusively Roman Catholic or marked more widely. But Good Friday is a paid day off only for three smaller denominations, including Protestants.

The government said it needed to examine the ruling before deciding what to do, but the opposition Social Democrats said the day of Christ's crucifixion should be a holiday for all — an option that the chamber of commerce said would cost the economy 600 million euros (C$910 million).

The answer, in the end, may simply be to be less generous.

The chamber suggested scrapping the national holiday on Easter Monday and replacing it with Good Friday. And senior Catholic and Protestant bishops said the government could simply scrap the right to compensation from employers for Protestants who were unable to take Good Friday off. 

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