On 4 February 2020, Ludmila Majlathova, engaged in a panel debate to discuss the EC view on priorities for the Cohesion policy financing post 2020 focusing on regional dimension.
The 2019 Country Report outlines in its Annex D specific investment needs for Slovakia, which are grouped under five policy objectives. Mrs. Majlathova stressed that the adoption of the Country Report kicked off negotiation.
However, since then Slovakia has been lagging behind in drafting programming documents. According to the roadmap, mature drafts should be ready in spring and finalised programme submitted in autumn 2020. The COM priorities under ESF allocation include i) long-term care through home-based and community services, ii) upskilling and adaptability of the existing labour force, iii) focus on a tailored made support to the most disadvantaged groups, iv) improving quality and inclusiveness of education and v) addressing needs of socio-economic integration of marginalised Roma communities.
Involvement of partners is an essential principle of the Cohesion policy and stakeholders positively viewed the government effort in this respect.
Overall, Slovakia has made limited progress in reducing regional disparities, but there are a few ongoing promising regional initiatives such as the “catching up regions” launched firstly in Prešov and currently being replicated in Banska Bystrica region.
Priorities selected by BBS include i) creation of the digitalised transport system, ii) optimisation of VET schools, iii) strengthening cooperation of companies with research organisation iv) developing an integrated plan of social and health services. She stressed the need to speed up in preparation of the regional territorial strategies in close consultation with socio-economic partners and stakeholders.
Mr. Hrdlicka from DPMII Office explained the national process of identifying investment priorities, praised the assistance of Slovak Academy of Science in preparation of the initial input to the Partnership Agreement.
Mr. Drotar from DPMII Office presented the state of play on programming the priority objective 5 “Europe closer to citizens”, which currently includes the following priorities: i) building administrative capacities and analytical centres, ii) improving quality of public services, iii) integrated development of communities iv) renovation of national/regional heritage and v) tourism. Concerning challenges, he mentioned limited financing for PO5 due to the thematic concentration, the need to find an agreement in the regions on investment priorities and ensuring synergies with other relevant sectoral strategies.
However, no agreement has been found yet on the territorial level that the strategies should apply. In order to speed up implementation, an intention is to identify a list of projects agreed among regional partners, which will be included in the regional strategies. In the last round of morning presentations, BB government presented its vision, which focuses on improving public services (social and healthcare services, public transport, culture and project assistance to small municipalities) and creating new job opportunities (education/VET, social economy and tourism).
A number of NGO-run projects were presented in the afternoon covering areas such as social enterprises, air pollution, regional energy/low carbon strategies or the initiative to address extremism. Participants engaged in a lively debate and asked numerous questions to understand whether there is still time and how to involve in negotiation and put forward their suggestions.
They were also very keen to hear about the EU context and the way it impacts the national programming such as negotiation on the EU budges post2020, the Cohesion policy legislation or new EC priorities including the EU Green deal and respective financing. In the afternoon block, participants were divided into working groups and discussed measures on the four selected topics, which would feed into preparation of the regional BSK strategy.