Arab Today, arab today economic success marks slovakia\s ten years in eu
Last Updated : GMT 15:48:54
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Economic success marks Slovakia\'s ten years in EU

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Economic success marks Slovakia\'s ten years in EU

Bratislava - XINHUA

Eduard Kukan, the former Slovak foreign minister, still remember how complicated the accession process of Slovakia to the European Union (EU). In an interview ahead of the upcoming celebration of 10th Anniversary of the country's EU membership on May 1, he recalled the year 1997. "The European Council decided on launching intense talks on EU accession with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus. Slovakia was placed into the second category, along with Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania. According to the Council, we didn't meet the political criteria", said Kukan. The change came with new Pro-European government led by Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda after election in 1998. One year later, Slovakia received the invitation to launch talks on joining the EU. In 2002, the European Commission stated that Slovakia had made significant progress, and recommended adopting the country into the EU along with nine others -- the so-called "Big Bang" enlargement. Some of the older member states of the EU did have concern over the accession of the ten countries with more than 100 million citizens. "But it came new good blood, which boosted the dynamism of the EU", added Kukan. According to Slovak economists, the EU membership boosted national economy, by bringing lower unemployment, higher salaries but also higher prices. Postova Banka analyst Jana Glasova said the performance of Slovakia's economy was some 50 percent higher last year than in 2003. "This is mainly down to foreign demand and the related exports of Slovak products abroad," she said. Meanwhile, the prices fetched for goods and services were some 40 percent higher last year than in 2003. "This doesn't mean we have to tighten our belts, though," she said, as the pace in growth of prices has been outperformed by the rise in salaries. Slovaks took home an average of 72 percent more in salaries last year than in 2003. In figures, the rise went from 477 euros (661.76 dollars) to 824 euros (1143.17 dollars) a month on average, noted Glasova. In the contrary, Slovak farmers are very unsatisfied with the EU membership of the country. The chair of the Slovak Agricultural and Food Chamber Milan Semancik said that the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) doesn't seem to be really common and Slovakia hasn't managed to restart its agricultural production and food industry since joining the EU. "We've recorded a slump in crop production and mainly animal production, and we've lost jobs mainly in the countryside," said Semancik. Richard Durana, head of the Institute of Economic and Social Studies, weighed in by saying that problems also lie in EU funds, as they only seemingly come for free. "Politicians don't approach these funds with a view to securing the highest added value but rather to use the largest volume," said Durana. In addition, the distribution of funding that isn't one's own is, generally speaking, necessarily accompanied by low efficiency and corruption, he added. Slovakia has benefited from deeper monetary integration when adopting the euro five years ago. Ivan Sramko, the former governor of the National Bank of Slovakia, praised many necessary reforms being adopted in anticipation of the euro adoption. The currency has also shielded the economy somewhat during the global economic and financial crisis. "By having the euro, we avoided major fluctuation in the valuation of the Slovak koruna, with such fluctuations posing a serious risk for a small and open economy. When examining the currencies of the surrounding countries who weren't in the eurozone, you see that they recorded volatility and their economic performance was adversely affected," said Sramko. Generally, the EU membership, for Slovakia, is the success story, as appreciated by the Prime Minister Robert Fico. For the future, it is important to deeply cooperate with other countries of the so called Visegrad Four, with Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic. "Therefore, Slovakia doesn't represent only its population of 5.5 millions, but all 60 millions citizens of the Visegrad Four. Otherwise we don't have a chance to protect our own national interests," underlined Fico.  

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