Rural Development and Diversification of Rural Areas in Slovakial. The country context
Since May 2005 Slovakia - as 9 other countries of Europe, concluded a several years of the negotiation process and became a full member of the European Union. As suchSlovak citizens were exposed to several changes – both positive and negative in allaspects of political, social and economic life of the country. Traditionally wellprotected borders became more open, citizens could move more freely but also goods,of course. Common European markets brought lower prices for consumers in severalcommodities including food on one side, but on the other side more difficult saleconditions for producers. The competitiveness of enterprises became a crucial factor of the economic success. Suddenly accessible European agriculture direct payments(although just 52,5% of full directs payments of farmers of old member states - OMS)immediately brought farming to a better and more favourable conditions. This facttogether with a “good weather” factor and consequently unusually high grain harvestcreated situation in which more than 70% of agriculture enterprises became profitable.Last surveys of sector average salaries showed, that the fastest growing wages are inagriculture – the sector, which was always lagging behind in the past.In general - the country macro-economic development took quit positive trend duringlast several years including the short time before the EU Accession. As the Green Report2004 says, the GDP growth was 4,2 in stabile prices , the inflation rate was 8,5,unemployment rate was 15,2% at the end of 2003 (declining trend), average nominal salarywas 480 USD, average interest rate was 7,6 in 2003. The Statistical survey conducted by theStatistical Office of the SR has shown further growth in nominal salaries – 570 USD at theend of this year. Among sectors the agriculture was the one with the fastest salary growth.
Slovakian economy became a fast growing after EU Accession. The in flow of foreign investments increased remarkably (In 2003 – 11,2 billion USD, Green Report,2004), especially in Western part of the country, the orientation of the industrialdevelopment in favour of value added branches helped to decrease the highunemployment rate and increase the average salaries.Unfortunately this positive development is not fairly balanced among regions, sincemost of domestic and foreign investments are concentrated around capitol city (whichhas an ex-centric position within the geography of the country) or in western regions,which were in quite favourable conditions already before. On the other side – Centraland Eastern parts of the country are continuing to suffer of unfavourable socio-economic context and consequently of lack of job opportunities. The study of theSlovak Academy of Science carried out in 2004 has shown clearly disparities amongregions and illustrates statements above (Graph 1).