Legislative and Policy Update: September 2017



SLOVAK REPUBLIC


EUROPEAN UNION

DIGITAL: On September 26, 2017, 21 signatories from the state administration, business sector, and educational institutions signed a memorandum aimed at improving skills in the field of digitization and information technologies in Slovakia. Its goal is to prepare people of all ages for work and life in the coming digital economy. (REF: SITA A.M. 27/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

ECONOMY: According to the National Bank of Slovakia GDP growth is expected to reach 3.3% in 2017. Next year, growth is estimated to accelerate to 4.2% and reach 4.6% in 2019. The main driving force should be exports and also private consumption, and in the coming years perhaps also investments should have a pro-growth effect. The labor market is expected to continue to be strong and support consumer demand. Employment growth will slow down due to inconsistencies between offer and demand in the labor market. Higher participation and influx of foreign workers will help to fill vacancies. The unemployment rate should fall to 7%, based on the estimate. (REF: SITA A.M. 27/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

E-COMMUNICATION: The Financial Administration of the Slovak Republic is already preparing the e-communication training for future users.  The goal is to present advantages of e-communication in the form of practical lectures. The mandatory e-communication between businesses and state is anchored in the revision to the law on tax administration. The original plan was to introduce mandatory e-communication for all entrepreneurs, sole traders included, as of January 1, 2018. After talks with representatives of sole traders, this deadline will probably be postponed to July 1, 2018. In such case, self-employed individuals would be obliged to file their first e-tax returns as late as 2019. (REF: SITA A.M. 08/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

ENVIRONMENT: On October 13, 2017, the Cabinet took into consideration draft Act amending Act no. 414/2012 Coll. on the trading of emission allowances and amending Act no. 587/2004 Coll. on the Environment Fund. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.rokovania.sk 20/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

EU FUNDS: As of August 31, Slovakia absorbed 989.8 million EUR from EU funds allotted for the 2014-2020 programming period. The money was drawn in eight of eleven operating programs. The absorption reached 7.1% from the total allocation of 13.936 billion EUR excluding the Rural Development Program. Compared with late July, the use of EU funds increased by 164.12 million EUR and the absorption rate went up by 1.19%. (REF: SITA A.M. 14/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

EU FUNDS: On September 29, 2017, the Cabinet approved an Action Plan to enhance transparency and simplified implementation of European structural and investment funds. The new action plan should enable faster and better absorption of money from the EU. Together, 38 new measures cover all areas and processes in the drawing of EU funds, specifically focusing on project evaluation and control. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.rokovania.sk 27/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

EU LEGISLATION: On September 6, 2017, the Cabinet approved the Report on the State of Coordination of Policy Making and Implementation of the European Union's policies. (REF: www.rokovania.sk 06/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

FINANCE: On September 6, 2017, Parliament moved to the second reading a draft amendment to the Act on Banks, which replaces mortgage bonds by issuing covered bonds. The total value of these bonds should be covered by underlying assets, which are mortgage loans. This, according to the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic will help stabilize the financing of banks, while at the same time it will contribute to the development of the Slovak capital market and strengthen the protection and legal certainty of investors. The current legal regulation for issuing of mortgage bonds as a source of financing mortgage loans dates back to 1996. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.nrsr.sk 06/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

FINANCE: On September 6, 2017, Parliament moved to the second reading a draft amendment to the Income Tax Act, based on which mortgage support is to be provided to young people as a tax bonus while its amount is set at 50% of the interest paid on the mortgage. The tax bonus for the interest paid may be up to a maximum of 400 EUR per taxation year. The amount of interest must be calculated on the basis of a loan, but at most from 50 000 EUR per property. If the amendment passes in the proposed wording, young people who will take out a mortgage after January 1, 2018 will already have to be active to receive state support. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.nrsr.sk 06/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

HEALTH CARE: On September 14, 2017, the Cabinet approved the concept for debt settlement of state-run medical facilities. The state should provide 585 million EUR for this purpose. The debt settlement will be gradual, lasting for three years and should take place in four rounds. The first round of settling debts could start as early as in November, and it will be available for both public and private facilities. Creditors will be able to ask for the repayment of liabilities and the decisive criterion for determining the order will be the age of the financial claim and discount they are willing to provide. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.rokovania.sk 13/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

HEALTH CARE: On September 21, 2017, the Cabinet approved a draft amendment to the Health Care Act. According to the amendment, the medical emergency service providers will be divided into two types. Medical emergency service of the first type is a separate outpatient facility with a doctor, screening staff, and other medical staff, open 24/7. Medical emergency service of the second type will have a higher degree of specialization, requiring additional medical specialists. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.rokovania.sk 21/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

HOUSING: On September 7, 2017, Parliament approved an amendment to the Act on the State Housing Development Fund that will introduce two new purposes for rental housing support: procurement of technical equipment and purchase of land for construction and use of rental apartments. The funding will be secured within the approved limits for the fund’s expenses in the given year. The Ministry of Transport and Construction of the Slovak Republic claims that it is not possible to quantify the amount of support at the moment since it is not known how many eligible applicants will use this new form of assistance. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.nrsr.sk 07/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

INFORMATION ACT: The Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic prepared an amendment to the law on access to information, which was submitted to the interdepartmental review. The proposal amends over 70 points of the original legislation. (REF: SITA A.M. 22/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

PAYMENT SERVICES: On September 6, 2017, Parliament moved to the second reading a draft amendment to the law on payment services. The new law is to transpose an EU directive which aims at creating a harmonized market of electronic payments in the EU as a result of the dynamically growing use of electronic services, increase in mobile payments, and an addition of new kinds of payment services. The revision is to take effect as of January 13, 2018. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.nrsr.sk 06/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

PROCUREMENT: On September 14, 2017, Parliament approved an amendment to the Public Procurement Act which will streamline, simplify, consolidate, and speed up public procurement procedures. According to the amendment the changes, will reduce the administrative burden and eliminate some of the existing problems in this area. The amendment to the Public Procurement Act will come into force on November 1, 2017. The amendment among other changes the financial limit for below-limit food purchases for school catering establishments based on an exemption from the current 40,000 EUR to 200,000 EUR, which should make it easier to buy food. Contracting authorities and contracting entities should use an existing register of references, thereby unifying their procedures and facilitating the participation of economic operators in public procurement. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.nrsr.sk 14/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

REGIONS: On September 13, 2017, the Cabinet took into consideration the Information on the Status of Support for the Least Developed Districts. (REF: www.rokovania.sk 13/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

RESEARCH: On September 7, 2017, Parliament approved a draft law on a public research institution, which is to facilitate the transformation of research organizations into public research institutions. The new legislation aims to establish a new type of legal entity subject to public law, which will stand at the interface between a public institution and a non-profit organization and whose main activity will be research. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.nrsr.sk 06/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

SOCIAL BUSINESS: On September 20, 2017, the Cabinet approved the Act on Social Economy and Social Businesses. The aim of the draft law is to create a favorable business environment for social businesses, to bring order into social businesses with regard to used terms and regulation, and to remove obstacles that prevent the development of the social economy in Slovakia. It should in particular help people who have been registered as long-term unemployed. As states the approved document, social enterprises currently account for 10% of all European enterprises, the social economy employs more than 14 million people in the EU, representing more than 6.5% of total employment. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.rokovania.sk 20/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

TAX: On September 20, 2017, the Cabinet approved draft Act amending Act no. 222/2004 Coll. on Value Added Tax as amended. The draft amendment to the Value Added Tax Act, includes changes to the taxation of surcharge in the provision of tourism services. According to the proposed wording, the special regulation of taxing this surcharge should be applied to any sale of tourism services, regardless of who is the recipient of those services. It is currently applied only if the final consumer, that is, the tourist is the recipient. (REF: SITA A.M. / www.rokovania.sk 20/09/2017) For more information click here.

 

UNEMPLOYMENT: According to the Central Office for Labor, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic the registered unemployment rate in Slovakia reached 6.54% at the end of August. Compared to July, the registered unemployment rate fell by 0.16 percentage points. In the year-on-year comparison, the unemployment rate was lower by 2.89 percentage points in August 2017. (REF: SITA A.M. 21/09/2017) For more information click here.


BUSINESS: On September 18, 2017, the European Commission introduced the renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy which brings together all existing and new horizontal and sector-specific initiatives into a comprehensive industrial strategy. (REF: IP/17/3185) For more information click here.

 

CODE OF CONDUCT: On September 13, 2017, the European Commission announced a new Code of Conduct for Members of the European Commission. The modernised rules set new standards for ethical rules in Europe. Proposed modernisation goes further by setting clearer rules and higher ethical standards as well as introducing greater transparency in a number of areas. It will also create an Independent Ethical Committee replacing the current Ad hoc Ethical Committee, to reinforce its status, to strengthen scrutiny and to provide advice on ethical standards. (REF: IP/17/3167) For more information click here.

 

CROSS BORDER: On September 20, 2017, the European Commission launched the "Border Focal Point", a forum of experts to overcome cross-border obstacles. It provides tailored support to regions to help them break down barriers to jobs and investments. It will contribute to improving access to jobs, to services such as healthcare and public transport systems and to facilitating business across the border. (REF: IP/17/3270) For more information click here.

 

CYBER SECURITY: On September 19, 2017 the European Commission proposed a wide-ranging set of measures to build strong cybersecurity in the EU. This included a proposal for an EU Cybersecurity Agency to assist Member States in dealing with cyber-attacks, as well as a new European certification scheme that will ensure that products and services in the digital world are safe to use. (REF: IP/17/3193) For more information click here.

 

DATA: On September 19, 2017, the European Commission proposed a new set of rules to govern the free flow of non-personal data in the EU. Together with the already existing rules for personal data, the new measures will enable the storage and processing of non-personal data across the Europen Union to boost the competitiveness of European businesses and to modernise public services in an effective EU single market for data services. Removing data localisation restrictions is considered the most important factor for the data economy to double its value to 4% of GDP in 2020. (REF: IP/17/3190) For more information click here.

 

DIGITAL: On September 21, 2017, the European Commission launched a new EU agenda to ensure that the digital economy is taxed in a fair and growth-friendly way. The European Commission sets out the challenges Member States currently face when it comes to acting on this pressing issue and outlines possible solutions to be explored. The aim is to ensure a coherent EU approach to taxing the digital economy that supports the EU's key priorities of completing the Digital Single Market and ensuring the fair and effective taxation of all companies. (REF: IP/17/3305) For more information click here.

 

ENERGY: On September 19, 2017, Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Commission published an updated guidance note on the recording of energy performance contracts in government accounts. The revised guidance note clarifies the accounting rules applied to the treatment of energy performance contracts. (REF: IP/17/3268) For more information click here.

 

EU-CANADA: On September 21, 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada entered into force provisionally. The European Commission will work with the EU Member States and Canada to ensure its smooth and effective implementation. (REF: IP/17/3121) For more information click here.

 

EU:  According to the latest Standard Eurobarometer survey published on August 2, 2017, together with the Flash Eurobarometer survey “Future of Europe – Views from outside the EU”, trust in the European Union is growing and it is at its highest level since 2010. According to the survey the support for the EURO is greater than it has been since 2004. Moreover, a majority of respondents, from eleven non-EU countries polled for the first time, say they have a positive view of the EU. (REF: IP/17/2127) For more information click here.

 

EU: According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Commission, hourly labour costs rose by 1.8% in the euro area and by 2.2% in the EU28 in the second quarter of 2017, compared with the same quarter of the previous year. In the first quarter of 2017, hourly labour costs increased by 1.4% and 1.6% respectively. (REF: STAT/17/3263) For more information click here.

 

EU: According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the job vacancy rate was in the euro area 1.9% in the second quarter of 2017, stable compared with the previous quarter and up from 1.7% in the second quarter of 2016. In the EU28, the job vacancy rate was 2.0% in the second quarter of 2017, up from 1.9% recorded in the previous quarter and from 1.8% in the second quarter of 2016. (REF: STAT/17/3262) For more information click here.

 

EU: According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, national figures alone cannot reveal the full and sometimes complex picture of what is happening at a more detailed level within the European Union. The EU Member States are often compared with each other, but in reality, it is very difficult to compare a small country like Malta or Luxembourg with Germany. (REF: STAT/17/3242) For more information click here.

 

EU: According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the number of persons employed increased by 0.4% in both the euro area and in the EU28 in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter. In the first quarter of 2017, employment increased by 0.5% in both areas. These figures are seasonally adjusted. (REF: STAT/17/3205) For more information click here.

 

EU: On September 13, 2017, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his 2017 State of the Union Address, before the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, presenting his priorities for the year ahead and outlining his vision for how the European Union could evolve by 2025. He presented a Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union. (REF: IP/17/3164) For more information click here.

 

EU: According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU28 during the second quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter. In the first quarter of 2017, GDP grew by 0.5% in both areas. (REF: STAT/17/3141) For more information click here.

 

EU-UKRAINE: On September 1, 2017, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine entered fully into force. The Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, is the main tool for bringing Ukraine and the EU closer together: It promotes deeper political ties and stronger economic links, as well as respect for common European values. The DCFTA provides a framework for modernising Ukraine's trade relations and economic development by opening up markets and harmonising laws, standards and regulations with EU and international norms. (REF: IP/17/3045) For more information click here.

 

FINANCE: On September 20, 2017 the European Commission proposed reforms to pave the way for further financial integration and a full Capital Markets Union, to promote jobs, growth and investments in Europe and to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union. The proposals also include steps to foster the development of financial technologies (FinTech) and to make sure that sustainability considerations are systematically taken into account in supervisory practices at the European level. (REF: IP/17/3308) For more information click here.

 

GDP: According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.6% in both the euro area and in the EU28 during the second quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter. In the first quarter of 2017, GDP had grown by 0.5% in both zones. (REF: STAT/17/2242) For more information click here.

 

INVESTMENT: On September 13, 2017, The European Parliament and the Member States came to an agreement on the extension and strengthening of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the core of the Investment Plan for Europe. The agreement extends the EFSI's duration as well as increases its financial capacity. (REF: IP/17/3207) For more information click here.

 

STATE AID: On September 13, 2017, the European Commission unveiled proposals to set up a European framework for screening foreign direct investment into the European Union. In parallel, the European Commission will start a detailed analysis of the foreign direct investment flows into the EU and set up a coordination group with Member States to help identify joint strategic concerns and solutions in the area of foreign direct investment. (REF: IP/17/3183) For more information click here.

 

TRADE: On September 13, 2017, the European Commission unveiled a weighty package of trade and investment proposals for a progressive and ambitious trade agenda. The proposals include the creation of a European screening framework to ensure that foreign direct investment does not compromise the EU's strategic interests when it comes to security and public order, as well as draft mandates to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. (REF: IP/17/3182) For more information click here



 
 
 

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