ABOUT €4.6 billion has been allocated to Slovakia from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union for the years 2014-2020. While the total support for agriculture and rural development in the EU for this period is lower than the previous one, Slovakia will receive more than it did in previous programming periods.
“For most European countries the support will decrease, but for Slovakia it will significantly increase by about €700 million,” said Dušan Chrenek, head of the Representation of the European Commission in Slovakia, as cited by the SITA newswire. “The CAP is advantageous, especially for economically weaker countries that would not be able to support their agriculture to such an extent as wealthier countries.”
Within the allocations, Slovakia made use of the option to move funds from rural development and increased direct payments to farmers to about €3.05 billion, while €1.54 billion will go to rural development.
The EU’s support of agriculture and rural development in Slovakia is moderately above the EU average. Within the EU, Slovakia makes up 1.1 percent of the population and receives 1.12 percent of the budget for agriculture and rural development.
“In terms of the total support per hectare of agricultural land, it is similar,” said Chrenek. “Because Slovakia has a low number of farmers, the average support per farmer in Slovakia is considerably above the EU average.”
According to Chrenek, drawing EU funds for rural development in the 2007-2013 period was significantly better compared with other operational programmes, and it is assumed that all of those funds will have been drawn.
“Since 2007, more than 1,500 agricultural companies were financed from this modernisation programme and hundreds of jobs were created,” said Chrenek. “EU funds also helped more than 1,100 villages improve their rural infrastructure. The Fund for Rural Development also supported agriculture in disadvantaged regions, [as well as through] environmental projects or ecological agriculture and the renewal of forests.”
EU funds can also be used to solve problems like unemployment and low productivity, as well as the low number of young farmers or the limited number of Slovak products in shops.
“Also, the processing sector needs strengthening,” said Chrenek, warning that Slovak exports of basic agricultural commodities and semi-finished products were considerably higher than imports over the last few years. “A significant portion of production has not been processed in Slovakia and is exported. In this way, Slovakia is losing out on income from products with higher added value.”
8. Sep 2014 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff