The regional development of Slovakia is significantly affected by the EU regional policy. The accession of Slovakia to EU in 2004 put forward the regional dimension of social and economic processes more intensively than before.
The basic law that enabled a full application of the regional policy principles in the Slovak Republic in the process of harmonisation of national legislation with acquis communautaire and the participation of the country in the cohesion policy of the European Union was the Act No. 503/2001 Coll. on the promotion of regional development. It was further necessary to draw up a document, through which SR would draw resources from the structural funds and the Cohesion Fund of EU. For the reduced programme period of years 2004 – 2006 this document was the National Development Plan and the Community Support Framework, which represented an agreement between the European Commission and the Government of SR on priorities for the use of financing from the structural funds.
For the programme period of years 2007 – 2013 the National Strategic Reference Framework was drawn up as a basic document for drawing of financial resources from the structural funds and the Cohesion Fund of EU.
However, resources from the EU funds should be only regarded as supplementary resources, as also results from regulations of the European Community. It is very important to promote the regional development at national level by activation of own internal resources of development.
The Slovak Republic was clearly missing a document at national level, dealing with financing of the regional development from resources other than supplementary resources such as the EU funds. In 2008 the Government of SR adopted the new Act No. 539/2008 Coll. on the promotion of regional development that creates an environment and conditions for more effective regulation and implementation of the regional policy and allows the self-governing regions and communities to use their competences in favour of their own development to a greater extent than the existing legislation. This act defined the National Regional Development Strategy of SR (hereinafter “National Strategy“) as a basic document for the promotion of regional development at the national level.
The National Strategy will steadily strive for the enforcement of the principles of sustainable development using the whole positive development potential of SR. It will require the activation of all internal sources of communities, regions and state at national and regional level and the use of all available external resources, also in the process of implementation of both the present and the future EU regional policies.
The basic level of implementation of the National Strategy will be regions/higher territorial units at level NUTS 3 as administrative units co-created by the structure of settlements in their territory. The philosophy, approaches and principles, on which the regional development strategy of SR is based, respect the role and responsibility of the individual regions for the development of their territories.
Up until now, cooperation between regions and actors of the individual sectoral policies or coordination, particularly in the economic area, has not been effectively implemented within the regional policy. The National Strategy has the ambition to establish a basic conceptual framework for the implementation of this cooperation.
The National Strategy should be a basic long-term conceptual document of the implementation of the Slovak regional policy. It determines objectives and priority areas of regional development and main ways of their fulfilment.
The application of principles of sustainable development is one of basic attributes of the regional development strategy in SR. As sustainable will be regarded a development based on a stable economic growth, economical use of natural sources and reduction of their excessive consumption, respecting of cultural and social needs of population and efficient environmental protection. A development stimulating the social process of learning and self-organisation in the conditions of environmental, economic and social limits of the present society.
The draft strategy creates a basic framework for the implementation of regional policy of SR as an independent regional policy of an EU Member State and as an integral part of the EU regional policy, which should complement each other.