AmCham Slovakia in 2016 - Introducing the "e-Year"

AmCham Slovakia has many exciting activities planned for its members in 2016!  We would like to encourage you to engage in our advocacy efforts, attend our diverse events and make use of all these networking opportunities!

As we have done for the past six years, AmCham Slovakia has identified a particular theme on which to focus its vast array of events and advocacy efforts.

In addition to highlighting AmCham’s Policy and Advocacy achievements in 2015, AmCham would like to introduce:

 


During AmCham’s “e-Year 2016”, AmCham Slovakia is committed to addressing three main pillars:

1.    EU Council Presidency

For the first time in its history, Slovakia will have the opportunity to preside over the Council of the European Union.  Slovakia´s EU presidency – scheduled for the 2nd half of 2016 – will offer a unique opportunity for AmCham and its members to engage in a dialogue with a multitude of high-level guests from a variety of governmental and private institutions throughout the European Union.  During its presidency, Slovakia will host numerous events with political and business leaders. AmCham will do its best to offer its members various opportunities to interact with them.

2.     Elections – Slovakia (March) and United States (November)

The Slovak parliamentary elections – which will have a substantial impact on Slovakia and its business environment for the next four years – are scheduled to take place in March.  These elections will offer another opportunity for AmCham to highlight its Rule of Law (RoL) Initiative recommendations (formulated with a broad coalition with 13 other organizations) which will be discussed publicly with leaders of political parties during an open pre-election event. Following the elections, the RoL Initiative will actively engage in fresh dialogue with the new government in order to ensure significant improvements of the rule of law in Slovakia.  In addition, the US presidential elections will take place in early November.  In cooperation with the US Embassy, AmCham has traditionally hosted a US elections-related event the night of the US elections.  This year should be no exception.

3.     E-Agenda

AmCham’s third pillar for 2016 is what we are calling the E-Agenda.  Taking into consideration the priorities of the Slovak presidency, as well as the interests of our members, we will continue to focus our activities on several loosely connected areas, such as: Energy, Employment, Education and all things digital and cyber related.  As AmCham continues to strive for a favorable investment climate in Slovakia, these areas of interest will be addressed in various advocacy efforts, as well as through a great variety of events, including the FDI Conference (January), the Regional Tax conference (May), the Kosice Invest Conference (November), the efforts of the Business Service Center Forum (BSCF), a conference on cyber security, the annual EU Conference (Energy Union) and many, many more events prepared especially for our members.  We do look forward to our members‘ active participation in these events!


MAIN POLICY AND ADVOCACY ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2015

AmCham is considered a valuable representative of the business community by many public institutions. We strive to make our members’ voices heard and offer expert recommendations during legislative processes. Throughout 2015, AmCham commented on 19 legislative materials produced by governmental institutions or members of the National Council. Our committees and task forces submitted altogether 279 comments. We invite you to join our advocacy activities to help us be even more successful as we will continue to serve as one of the main voices of the business community in the upcoming year.

  • Rule of Law Initiative: AmCham together with other major business associations successfully continued with the Rule of Law Initiative. Position paper with recommendations aiming to improve the legislative process, tackle corruption and promote a more transparent and efficient judiciary was presented to the Prime Minister, Speaker of the National Council and the President in February 2015. Slovak government acknowledged the Initiative and in July adopted Action plan on strengthening rule of law in Slovakia after consultations with the business community. Slovak Prime Minister Fico met with the representatives of the Initiative in January to present the first results the government has achieved since the adoption of the Action Plan. At the meeting, the prime minister invited members of the Initiative to participate in formulating the government manifesto in areas concerning strengthening the rule of law should he be given the mandate to form the new government.
  • Foreign Direct Investment: In 2015, AmCham conducted its second major FDI Survey, the results of which will be presented at the FDI conference in January 2016. In 2016, we would like to follow up and continue our discussions on the outcomes of the survey with all relevant government stakeholders.
  • Tax: AmCham has been a strong advocate of the introduction of binding tax rulings which we considered as a step forward in improving legal predictability. After introduction of the binding rulings in September 2014, the Tax Committee conducted a survey among its members in spring 2015 providing a valuable feedback of the business community for the Financial Administration. The results of the survey along with recommendations were presented to the representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Financial Administration in June 2015. Subsequently the Ministry significantly expanded the scope in order to make the binding rulings more efficient for companies, adopting several of AmCham recommendations.
  • Business Service Center Forum: The results of the second survey of the BSC sector in Slovakia were presented at the 1st BSCF conference in May in an expanded brochure as well as in a slide show. Two discussion panels focused on labor and education concerns of the BSCs that struggle in Slovakia with a shrinking talent pool and obstructive labor legislation. Following the conference BSCF also launched an initiative to streamline the application process for work and residence permits for non-EU nationals. At the 7th Košice Invest Conference in November, BSCs operating in Eastern Slovakia voiced their concerns also regarding infrastructure and services in the regions. This message was summarized in a letter to Košice City, Košice County, SARIO and Ministry of Economy. BSCF also deepened cooperation with the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy R. Chovanec who agreed to advocate for the BSC sector.
  • Canadian Council: By the end of 2015, AmCham has successfully concluded the preparations for the establishment of the Canadian Council. The first meeting will take place in February 2016 with hockey star Peter Šťastný acting as Honorary Chairman of the Council.
  • Energy: In March, AmCham along with three other signatories sent a letter to Prime Minister R. Fico expressing concerns about high industrial electricity prices. The Committee also prepared a position paper on the Energy Union which was presented at the EU Conference in June. AmCham commented on several draft laws, regulations and strategies within the interdepartmental review, such as the Strategy on Electro-mobility Development, Regulation of the Ministry of Economy on deployment and operation of smart metering systems, Regulation of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority on requirements for handling nuclear materials, radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, and the Regulatory Policy plan for 2017-2021. In June, AmCham along with the Representation of the European Commission organized the 4th EU Conference “Global Challenges of the European Union” featuring Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Energy Union.   
  • Digitalization: In order to keep up with the developments shaping the digital environment, AmCham has established a Digital Committee to cover topics such as e-commerce, cyber security, data protection and telecommunications as well as to focus on specific areas such as net neutrality, roaming, international data flow, one-stop shop etc. Two meetings with representatives of the Office for Personal Data Protection took place to discuss current developments in the data protection. Digital agenda was also a key topic at several AmCham conferences featuring high-level speakers, such as Gunther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Peter Pellegrini, Digital Champion of Slovakia, or Ales Spetic, Digital Champion of Slovenia.
  • Real Estate: In November AmCham introduced a new policy activity focusing on real estate and construction. The Real Estate Committee was established to communicate with the Slovak government, propose solutions for challenges the companies face in the competitive regional and global environment as well as to share ideas and best practices among companies within the sector. At the first committee meeting on December 10 the Local Development Fee Act and the Construction Act were discussed. Already before the establishment of the committee AmCham has asked President A. Kiska to veto the Bill on local charge for development.
  • Public Procurement: AmCham’s Public Procurement Task Force submitted 94 comments to the Public Procurement Act within the interdepartmental review in January. Together with representatives of the European Commission from DG Growth, AmCham organized a discussion roundtable with business representatives on public procurement environment in Slovakia. 


We invite you to become active and join our Committees and Task Forces so that we can proactively participate in fostering positive growth in the Slovak business environment together throughout 2016!
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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