Development of transport infrastructure should help to unveil full potential of the European common market. Visegrad countries are integral part of some of the TEN-T priority transport axes.
Like most developed countries also Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary will very soon face the situation, where fewer people will have to create the resources, which will have to change the structure of public finances.
Will the regions of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia be able to take the full advantage of the major part of the EU cohesion funds still to be used in the current programming period? What are the main challenges and problems?
Slovakia was the first country in Visegrad which adopted euro as a national currency in January 2009. Due to financial and economic crisis and consequent problems with fulfilling convergence criteria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and also Poland postponed their plans for entering eurozone.
The agreement on budget reform was the main factor that helped to close two-year long negotiations about long-term financial framework 2007 – 2013. Traditionally, one of the most disputed points is the proportion of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on the whole budget. In the past more than a half of the whole EU budget was spent on CAP. At the moment it represents about 45 % of the budget. Commission aims at lowering expenditure on agriculture to 32 % by 2013.
Ensuring stable and secure supplies of energy is one of the key objectives of every government and energy aspects play a decisive role of foreign as well as other policies of each country. How does the energy security look like in Czech republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia?
Visegrad countries are connected by strong historical ties and they share common cultural heritage. Within the Visegrad Group not only meetings of heads of governments are held at the highest level of intergovernmental co-operation but also meetings of ministers of culture at lower level. They meet twice a year.
Common agricultural policy (CAP) is the most integrated and one of the most important EU policies based on EU agricultural subsidies and programs. It was created more than 50 years ago after Second World War as a respond on the fears of food shortages experienced during the war times. It was established to subsidize farmers and encourage them to produce more to ensure stable food supplies.
New institutional setting of the European Union under the painfully born Lisbon Treaty opened a new window of opportunity to find a place “in the sun” for the four countries of the Visegrad region. Have the countries seized the chance?
What were the positions of Visegrad countries at the COP15 Summit in Copanhagen in December 2009 and what is the perception of citizens in Hungary, Czech republic, Slovakia and Poland about the climate change? All four countries backs common EU position on CO2, but they differ each other, when it comes to way how to reach the goals.
In regards of "new" types of energy, in Visegrad countries there are two main motivations to explore and exploit them: firstly EU's emmision and renewable target, secondly economy crisis and subsequent need for innovation and growth via funding energy research and development.
The collapse of Soviet Union brought the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance, and allowed deeper political integration on the continent. Former members of the Soviet bloc, including the Visegrad countries, started the application process for EU and NATO membership. However, it was first the Balkan wars and later the 9/11 attacks that unveiled new threats to the global security and showed that Europe needs to improve its ability in addressing them. Visegrad countries, now full EU and NATO members, participate in the effort to tackle the security threats.
The EU and its member states struggled to meet the ambitious goal set at the 2000 Lisbon Summit of becoming “the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and respect for the environment by 2010”. Now, one has to conclude, EU failed. What about the new EU members - Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia?
In numerous diagnoses a patient from Visegrad region has considerable lower chance of surviving compared to the “old EU member states”. Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia face many common challenges in their effort to secure a sustainable health services for increasingly demanding patients.
SMEs, which are defined as companies with no more than 250 employees and a maximum turnover of €50 million, are generally seen as the backbone of the European economy, accounting for 99% of EU businesses and providing around three-quarters of all private sector jobs.
Europe is ethnically diverse continent and countries without ethnic minorities are very rare. According to official data every European country with more than one million inhabitants has national minorities. Very easily, a minority in one place can be a majority in another, due to division by national borders. But there are also ethnic groups without their own state like Catalans, Bretons, Corsicans or Roma, which are the largest European minority with population from 10 to 12 million.
Following 2004 enlargement, EU has gained new members but also new neighbours. Eastern partnership initiative is designed to address diverse expectations of eastern neighbours concerning European integration and offer them new type of the contractual relationship. The upgraded European Neighbourhood Policy is also an expression of foreign policy priorities of Visegrad countries supporting European aspirations of Ukraine.
During the communist rule in the past, all countries of Visegrad region had been the part of former Soviet block. At that period many key links were created and some of them have been transformed into current relations and cooperation - especially on fields of trade, energy, energy infrastructure and foreign and security policy. Between the most recent issues discussed between V4 and Moscow one can identify U.S. anti-missile shield in Czech republic and Poland, gas supplies to Slovakia, as well as Nabucco and South Stream pipelines talks with Hungary.
Following the period of global economic boom financial bubble burst and the U. S. subprime mortgages mess impacted Europe almost immediately after it erupted in august 2007. At first, Europe did not pay enough attention to worsening situation on financial markets. But economic environment was getting worse and in first quarter of 2008 European Commission predicted growth contraction. Despite EU was not epicenter of crisis it was affected via the financial channels.
Safe and prosperous Western Balkans is one of the principal preoccupations of foreign policy of the countries of Visegrad region. What is more, the cultural and geographical proximity and experience with successful transformation predetermine Visegrad countries to play a pivotal role in advocating the European future for the countries of the region.