Questions and Answers on Slovakia's second disbursement request under NextGenerationEU
How did the Commission assess Slovakia's second payment request?
On 25 October 2022, Slovakia submitted to the Commission a request for the disbursement of €709 million in grants (net of pre-financing) following the implementation of 14 milestones and two targets linked to the second instalment, as outlined in the Council Implementing Decision approving the plan. These cover reforms and investments in the circular economy, in the education and healthcare systems, in the governance of Research & Investment (R&I) activities, in schemes to attract skilled workers, as well as in the digital economy, public procurement and the fight against corruption. This second payment request also covers investments aimed at the protection of nature and biodiversity and at improving digital skills.
With their request, the Slovak authorities provided detailed and comprehensive evidence demonstrating the satisfactory fulfilment of the 14 milestones and two targets concerned. The Commission has thoroughly assessed this information before endorsing the positive preliminary assessment of the payment request.
What are the next steps?
The Commission has now sent the positive preliminary assessment of Slovakia's fulfilment of the milestones and targets related to this payment request to the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), asking for its opinion. The EFC's opinion, to be delivered within a maximum of four weeks, should be taken into account in the Commission's assessment. The Commission will adopt the decision on the disbursement of the financial contribution, in accordance with the examination procedure, through a comitology committee. The disbursement to Slovakia would take place after the adoption of this decision by the Commission. The amounts disbursed to the Member States will be published in the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard. The Commission has also shared its positive preliminary assessment with the European Parliament.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by Slovakia effectively support the green transition?
In the context of its second payment request, Slovakia is supporting its green transition through a number of measures. Among these is the waste reform, which boosts the country's circular economy by ensuring the recycling and reuse of waste in the construction and demolition sectors. The reform increases landfilling fees in order to reduce waste disposal, and introduces measures to ensure that at least 70% of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste is recovered. Moreover, selected investment projects for the regions of Muránska Planina and Polonina aim to transform the economic model of these areas. Such an economic model, currently based on an intensive use of natural resources, will shift towards one based on ‘soft tourism', building on the economic activities of local stakeholders, ecosystem services and biodiversity protection.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by Slovakia effectively contribute to the digital transition?
In the context of its second payment request, Slovakia has achieved several milestones and targets that support the digital transition. For instance, it has set up a support scheme that targets companies, including SMEs, research institutes, public entities and other beneficiaries, and helps them research, develop and deploy advanced digital technologies. The scheme will support different types of projects in the field of digital technologies, and is expected to aid up to 43 projects by 2026. Slovakia has also launched a pilot project improving the digital skills of over 1000 elderly people and people with disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, paving the way for the roll-out of a large-scale programme targeting the population at large. The programme combines digital skills training with the provision of tablets and internet connection to the participants particularly at risk of falling behind in the digital transition.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by Slovakia contribute to improving Slovakia's economic and social situation, and its resilience?
In the context of its second payment request, Slovakia has achieved three milestones related to improving the efficiency of the labour market in attracting and retaining skilled workers. First, a new accelerated visa-scheme was introduced, which helps highly qualified third-country nationals find a job in Slovakia. Second, procedures for obtaining Slovak citizenship were simplified for those with family ties to the country. Third, the process for the recognition of evidence of training documents and professional qualifications delivered by other countries has been simplified and accelerated.
In the area of education, Slovakia has made progress towards removing schools' physical, informational and technological barriers for pupils with disabilities and health-related disadvantages. Slovakia aims at creating a better learning environment for these pupils by setting minimum standards and providing schools with useful guidance to achieve such standards.
Progress has also been made in the domain of health and social care, covered by four milestones. Slovakia passed an important reform aimed at optimising its hospitals' ‘inpatient care' (i.e. the care service provided to incoming patients) by increasing the quality of medical service and improving the effectiveness of the concerned hospitals. To date, Slovakia has implemented the first step of the reform, which establishes a network of hospitals and assigns them to five different categories, based on the services provided.
As regards R&I, Slovakia adopted two important reforms to strengthen its overall country performance in scientific research. The first reform strengthens the coordination role of the new governance structure set up at the Government Office for research, development and innovation, and establishes processes to enable a more effective and strategic coordination of public research, development and investment activities. The second reform introduces a system for periodic evaluations of the scientific performance of universities by foreign researchers.
Slovakia has also put forward a reform to simplify and accelerate procurement procedures, and one to fight money laundering, by allowing the police to freeze illegal assets. This will now be allowed during and after criminal proceedings, as well as following the adoption of international sanctions.
Does the achievement of these milestones and targets contribute to an effective implementation of the Plan?
The fulfilled milestones and targets constitute significant steps in the implementation of Slovakia's recovery and resilience plan and consolidate its reform momentum in key policy areas. This includes important measures, such as the simplification and acceleration of public procurement procedures (while ensuring proper safeguards) and their digitalisation, an anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering package strengthening the capacities of the police, and a key reform strengthening the coordination and evaluation processes in the area of publicly funded research, development and innovation.
For More Information
Preliminary assessment first payment request
Press release on Slovakia's second disbursement request under NextGenerationEU
Press release on the positive preliminary assessment of Slovakia's first payment request
Press release on €822.7 million in pre-financing to Slovakia
Question and Answers on Slovakia's recovery and resilience plan
Factsheet on Slovakia's recovery and resilience plan
Annex to the Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision
Recovery and Resilience Facility
Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard
Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation
Question and Answers on the Recovery and Resilience Facility