In assessing the 6-year-old membership of the Slovak
Republic in the EU it is essential to consider that by joining the
European Union on 1 May 2004 (as well as by entry into NATO a few
weeks before) our country irreversibly resolved the strategic
question of its direction. By accepting the values of the
Euro-Atlantic space and its most powerful communities, the Slovak
Republic firmly anchored in its natural socio-political environment.
The development confirmed the correctness of these integration
decisions, not only due to the obvious advantages and privileges of
the membership in both groups of integration, which inherently
include a common economic space and single market, free movement of
persons, the guarantee of collective defense, but perhaps even more
in terms of positive changes in social climate, better feeling of
self-reliance and increased self-confidence of the society. A
guarantee of security and stability for the internal development is
a strong asset, by means of which something positive can be created.
Therefore, the balance of this 6-year period is clearly positive.
A positive synergic effect of EU membership and in-depth structural
reforms that the Slovak government implemented (specifically a flat
income tax of physical and legal entities of 19% as well as 19% VAT
rate) was also reflected in the dynamic growth of GDP of our
country. During the period of 2005-2008 it constantly exceeded the
amount of 6.0%. A specific reference to the year 2007 should be made
as Slovakia's GDP that year reached 10.4%, while in the fourth
quarter of 2007 it reached 14.3%, an unprecedented figure within the
Recession, which resulted in global financial and economic crisis in
2008, naturally weakened the development potential of the Slovak
economy, as well. Thus Slovakia after years of high economic growth
experienced a decrease in GDP by 4.7% in 2009. Last year was the
most difficult in the modern history of our economy. However, thanks
to the effective anti-crisis measures implemented by the Slovak
Government, Slovakia has experienced significant improvement in the
last quarter of 2009. The trend of gradual economic recovery should
be more evident in 2010 when positive GDP growth in the range of
2-3%, which is 1-2% higher than the average growth in the Eurozone,
Slovakia's foreign trade reached a surplus of 1.3 billion Euros in
the last year, despite the negative impact of the global crisis on
the heavily export-oriented economy of our country. The automobile
and electronics industries played a significant role in the
development of this macroeconomic indicator. Few people know that
Slovakia could be, without exaggeration, called "Detroit of Central
Europe". Our country in 2007-2008 took the baton as a world leader
in the production of cars per capita. The automobile production in
Slovakia should reach 850,000 to 900,000 cars per year in 2010,
which is a truly impressive number for a country of 5.4 million
inhabitants. The "flagship" car industry in Slovakia includes three
companies - Volkswagen, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Kia Motors. It is
worth mentioning that the most luxurious, top quality and most
sophisticated models - Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne are
produced in Bratislava Volkswagen plant.
As far as electronics industry is concerned, production of LCD
TV-sets dominates the field, conducted by two of the three
top-selling brands in Europe - Samsung and Sony. A "small
revolutionary earthquake" is expected in this field with launching
of 3D TV-sets functioning on the basis of LCD sets. The Slovak
plants of Samsung and Sony are among the first concern factories
that will start their mass production.
All recognized rating agencies rate the Slovak Republic as one of
the best among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe - Moody's
Corporation, has currently assigned our country rating A1 in terms
of security of the investment climate, Fitch Ratings A+ and Standard
& Poors A + / A1.
By the introduction of the euro as from 1 January 2008 Slovakia
entered the club of countries with more stable economy, which use a
strong global currency. Slovakia's membership in the EU and the euro
area improved long-term potential growth, monetary stability and
control of inflation. After joining the EU the living standards and
purchasing power of Slovak citizens also increased. As a concrete
example, one could mention that the average monthly wage per capita
in Slovakia increased by more than 60% between the years 2005-2009.
Our citizens are also especially satisfied with the freedom of
movement, which was significantly extended by the accession of
Slovakia to the Schengen Area from December 2007.
An undisputable expression of appreciation of the progress of the
Slovak Republic within the EU is a recent allocation of an important
post of Vice-President of the European Commission for
Inter-institutional Relations and Administration to the Slovak
nominee Maros Sefcovic.
To conclude with, the membership of Slovakia in the Euro-Atlantic
integration structures acted as a catalyst for necessary internal
reform processes. Nearly six years of membership in the EU is a
success story for Slovakia. Today, more than 60 percent of Slovak
citizens consider EU membership "a good thing" and as many as 77
percent believe that Slovakia benefits from the membership.
Furthermore, these figures are considerably more favorable than they
were before the accession to the EU.