EU Presidency to bring business opportunities (The Slovak Spectator)

 Martin Vlachynský 4.7.2016 komentoval ciele Slovenska počas predsedníctva EÚ pre The Slovak Spectator. 

EU Presidency to bring business opportunities (The Slovak Spectator)

 For the first time, Slovakia will preside over the EU Council, and the country's presidential term is seen as an opportunity not just for the country but also for individual companies to show their potential around the EU.

Though a presiding country is meant to be an honest broker, the Foreign Ministry is also offering opportunities for local companies.
“We are trying to prepare [the presidency] as a national project involving the general public and a whole range of partners," spokesman Peter Stano told the Hospodárske Noviny daily.
Companies can engage in sponsorships, presentations of Slovak identity or presentations of products during EU events. Companies may also benefit from secondary activities like arranging conferences or accommodation in hotels.
The rotating presidency is a short-term strain on personnel and organisational capacity of the presiding country, but the benefits can be big if everything runs smoothly, Ján Oravec, president of Entrepreneurs Association of Slovakia (ZPS), said.
“It is a beauty contest, like when the model goes out on the catwalk," Oravec told The Slovak Spectator, “and when she goes off to behind the scenes, everybody sighs that she did not sprain her ankle."
During the presidency, more events will be held and more people will travel which may help the economy and, in particular, tourism, said Peter Kremský, executive director of the Business Alliance of Slovakia (PAS).

Sponsorship opportunities
The Foreign Ministry tempts companies to participate in sponsorship in which they would supply goods and services for free and in turn will be allowed to use the logo and the trademark of the presidency or present themselves at collateral events. Companies have shown interest in such partnerships.
State authorities have signed contracts with PSA Slovakia, which will lend minivans to transport state delegations, Smart Logistics for transporting of goods, and beverages will be supplied by Mrva & Stanko winery and the Slovak Association of Beer and Malt Producers.
In addition, there will be partners in the field of telecommunications, software products, antivirus licences and the supply of fuel, Stano said.

A company which takes on a sponsorship could target a variety of objectives, including displaying products to domestic or foreign clients, boosting sales, expanding into foreign markets or maintaining contact with customers, spokeswoman for the Federation of Employers' Associations (AZZZ) Miriam Špániková said.
Moreover, sponsorship can reduce the overall bill the Slovak taxpayers will pay for the presidency, according to Oravec.
The Foreign Ministry estimates that the sponsorship contracts will save the state millions of euros, and companies will earn hundreds of thousands in return, Hospodárske Noviny reported.
However, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are less likely to benefit from advertising opportunities, which are more suitable for large firms, Kremský of the PAS pointed out.

Visual presentation
Visual presentation is another opportunity for Slovak entrepreneurs during the presidency. While each presiding country has the right to show its individuality, the Slovak authorities have chosen to present Slovakia as a modern, dynamic and innovative country in accordance with the official branding Good Idea Slovakia.

The main project, a visual presentation “The Four Elements of Innovation" of the Slovak Association of Interior Designers (SAID), will be based in the atrium of Justus Lipsius, the headquarters of the EU Council in Brussels.
The project rests on four pillars - Earth is represented by movable house Ecocapsule, water by kayaks and canoes by the Vajda Group, fire by plasma drilling technology by the GA Drilling and air by flying car AeroMobil of engineer Štefan Klein.
The six authors of the project who called themselves “human beings whose hearts beat for Slovakia" have taken into account that while the atrium is not a museum or gallery presentation must catch the first glimpse of people who pass through for their daily duties, Stano said.
“Our intention is to provoke a positive impression and immediately pass on the message that Slovakia is a country of innovation which helps to change the world," he added.

Business solutions
The Economy Ministry claims to be preparing solutions to improve the country's business environment, although outside of the presidency agenda. Areas of interest are mainly law enforcement, duration of judicial proceedings, tax and tariff burdens.
“The new leadership has already taken a decision to build a team of people who will analyse the business environment in order to bring optimal and targeted measures of improvement," Economy Ministry spokesman Maroš Stano told The Slovak Spectator.

AZZZ supposes that the presidency would not have a direct impact on the quality of Slovak business environment.
“Topics of negotiations are given in advance and include reducing administrative burdens of EU institutions, the Energy Union or other energetic problems,"AZZZ's Špániková told The Slovak Spectator.
Martin Vlachynský of the Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) think tank pointed out that the programme available so far only says that “Slovakia will support strengthening Economic and Monetary Union during the presidency which would help to raise the competitiveness" which is largely an empty phrase.

Proposals by entrepreneurs
PAS offered a series of proposals to eliminate redundant bureaucracy, including limiting dates when new laws kick in to January 1 and July 1, one-stop-shop for all state institutions, obligation of the authorities to request necessary documents themselves and elimination of unreasonable obligations for entrepreneurs.
Kremský cited the requirement for hotels to report visits by foreigners, fines due to false declaration of part-time workers, concessionary fees for employers without a media device, evidence of approvals of tax bureau and declaration of an oath for business registry, agreement on electronic communication between employer and social insurance company or obligation to notify the health insurance company that the premium would be affected.
Slovakia could be an example for other EU countries, just as it was when it implemented a flat tax, a central registry of agreements and an online business registry, according to Kremský.
“It has contributed to greater transparency, business development and thereby to economic growth, which is one of the objectives of the Slovak presidency," Kremský said.

Whole EU faces problems
Declining competitiveness is not only a problem for Slovakia, but for all EU. From this perspective, the EU is a tanker floating in the wrong direction, said Oravec and stressed that politicians of member states and EU institutions want to achieve a satisfactory living standard for people, rather than to appease entrepreneurs.
“If needs of economy are too long ignored, it loses the ability to generate resources essential to maintain and improve the standard of living," Oravec said.

To ensure improvement, Oravec proposes more structural reforms, business freedom, and less centralisation, bureaucracy and regulation.
“These priorities were important long before the Slovak presidency, will be important during following six months and also will remain important long after the presidency is over," Oravec said.
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Peter Adamovský
The Slovak Spectator, 4.7.2016

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