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Slovakia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission opinion COM(1997) 2004 final [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report COM(1998) 703 final [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report COM(1999) 511 final [Not published in the Official Journal
Commission report COM(2000) 711 final [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report COM(2001) 700 final - SEC (2001) 1754 [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1410 [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission monitoring report COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1209 [Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997 the European Commission did not foresee any major problems in the field of research and technological development.
In the telecommunications sector, however, the Commission expressed the view that Slovakia would have problems conforming to the acquis in the medium term due to the inability of the administration to implement the new legislation. With regard to the information society, the Commission considered that the range and extent of information technology products was an encouraging indication of Slovakia's potential in the field of information society activities.

The October 1999 and November 2000 Reports noted the progress made in research and technological development. Progress had also been made in telecommunications.

In its October 2002 Report the Commission noted that some further progress had been made in the telecommunications sector. Further progress had also been made in the field of science and research.

The November 2003 Report indicates that Slovakia is partially meeting the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the telecommunications and postal services area. As regards research, Slovakia is meeting the commitments arising from the accession negotiations and will be in a position to implement the acquis as from accession.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

Research and Technological Development activities (RTD) at Community level, as provided for in Article 164 of the EC Treaty (former Article 130G) and the Framework Programme (Article 166, former Article 130I), are aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life, as well as supporting sustainable development and contributing to the development of other Community policies.

The Europe Agreement between the European Union and Slovakia provides for co-operation in these areas, notably through the participation of the Associated State in the Framework Programme. The White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995) includes no direct measures in this field.

The objective of Community telecommunications policy is to eliminate obstacles to the efficient operation of the Internal Market in equipment, services and telecommunications networks, to open foreign markets to Community enterprises and to make modern services available to citizens and enterprises in the European Union. These objectives must be achieved by harmonising standards and conditions for the provision of services, liberalising the terminal equipment, services and networks markets and adopting the necessary regulatory measures.

The Europe Agreement stipulates that improvements in standards and practices in the field of telecommunications and postal services, and the standardisation, regulation and modernisation of the infrastructure to Community level must be achieved through cooperation. The White Paper places emphasis on the approximation of rules, networks and services and on the measures to be taken gradually to liberalise the sector.

EVALUATION

Research and technological development

Slovakia has a high-level research and development sector which has been rapidly rationalised due to substantial reductions in government support. Since July 1997, the Slovak Government has declared its interest in pursuing the policies initiated in the field of research and technological development. Since September 1999, Slovakia has been fully associated with the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, as well as the Euratom Framework Programme. It has also expressed interest in being associated with the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006). Research is a priority objective in the Slovak National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis. Results for the first year of participation in these programmes match up to expectations.

In February 2002, the legal framework was enhanced by the Act on Science and Technology and the Act on the Slovak Academy of Sciences. The National Council also adopted the new Act on University Education in February 2002. The Agency for the Support of Science and Technology continued to work effectively.

Despite this considerable progress, the Commission's 2002 report stresses that Slovakia will have to increase gross domestic expenditure on RTD in order to develop the sector further and ensure that it is fully integrated into the European Research Area. The private sector, including SMEs, should also be encouraged to participate more actively in RTD.

Lastly, the Commission's 2003 report notes that Slovakia meets the commitments arising from the accession negotiations and will therefore be able to implement the acquis as from accession.

Telecommunications

Progress has been made in the field of telecommunications. Since January 1998, all telecommunications services have been liberalised. Slovak Telekom's exclusive right to provide public telecommunications infrastructure and supply public voice services expires on 31 December 2002. The privatisation of Slovak Telekom has advanced well through the sale of a 51% share of its capital. For fixed line telephone services, the operator's licence will be exclusive until the end of 2002.

Slovakia has taken steps to transpose the acquis concerning liberalisation of the market, but rapid progress is needed with respect to adopting the remaining pieces of secondary legislation that are necessary for the market to be opened properly. There is no progress to report in this area in 2002. Fixed network penetration peaked at around 32%, falling back slightly in response to recent price changes designed to bring prices more closely into line with costs as required by the acquis. Network modernisation and price rebalancing still have some way to go. The mobile sector continued to maintain its quick growth to reach a market penetration of 40% of inhabitants. In June 2002, a licence was issued to a new mobile operator, the third to enter the Slovak market. Two separate licences for UMTS were issued to the two existing GSM operators, allowing UMTS operations to commence when market conditions permit. Plans for the implementation of number portability still need to be brought into line with the acquis.

As regards the regulatory framework, alignment has reached a high level. In order to achieve full compliance with the acquis, issues related in particular to local loop unbundling and universal service need to be addressed, as was the aim of the Slovak Government draft rejected by Parliament in August 2002. A Department for Economic Regulation was established within the Telecommunications Office in May 2002.

Attempts to transpose the acquis on local loop unbundling again proved fruitless in 2003. As a result, the introduction of market opening, which was scheduled for the beginning of 2003, has been seriously obstructed. Moreover, interconnection tariffs, whose publication is required under the acquis, are still confidential and new operators are unable to enter the market on an equitable commercial basis. The re-balancing of tariffs and the achievement of affordable universal service still need to be ensured.

Lastly, Slovakia must transpose the 2002 acquis concerning implementation of a new regulatory framework on electronic communications.

Information society

With regard to the information society, the government examined the Strategy for the Implementation of the Information Society Policy and the Report on the Implementation of Global Information Networks in April 1998. The general accessibility of computer and Internet information services continued to increase. By the end of 1998, 20% of adult Slovaks had access to a PC. Slovakia is participating in the Joint High-Level Committee on Information Society.

The government has adopted a strategy on the information society in Slovakia, aiming at implementing the eEurope+(1) initiative and establishing a national agency to coordinate action in the area of information technology.

Postal services

Slovakia achieved considerable progress by adopting the Postal Services Act in November 2001, which has partially aligned Slovak legislation with the relevant Community acquis. The bulk of the Act entered into force in January 2002. Based on this Act, a Postal Office was established at the beginning of the year as an independent regulatory authority in the field of postal services. Legislative alignment in this area was still only partly complete in 2003, and the Second Postal Directive has yet to be transposed.

(1) The eEurope+ action plan is aimed at speeding up reforms and modernisation of the candidate countries' economies, encouraging capacity- and institution-building, improving overall competitiveness, and strengthening social cohesion. It was launched by the prime ministers of the candidate countries at the Gothenburg Council (15-16 June 2001).

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 11.02.2004
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