Slovakia

   

Executive Capacity

#37
Key Findings
With a number of notable weaknesses, Slovakia receives a relatively low overall score (rank 37) in the area of executive capacity. Its score on this measure has fallen by 1.1 point relative to 2014.

The Government Office lacks strategic-planning capacities and sectoral policy-evaluation expertise. Line ministries draft bills with comparatively little substantive oversight. Informal coordination plays a significant role, but has acted counter to official government action, leading to several coordination crises.

A recently adopted RIA methodology has not yet yielded the expected results. The government engages in little meaningful consultation with societal actors. The coherence of government communication has deteriorated. Implementation of measures contained in the government manifesto has been delayed or tackled erratically.

Ministerial compliance has been complicated by the diversity of the governing coalition. Many Smer-SD ministers have proved more loyal to the former prime minister than to the current officeholder. Various scandals have limited Slovakia’s access to EU funds. The Pellegrini government has sought to reposition Slovakia among the core group of EU member states, distancing the country from Hungary and Poland.

Strategic Capacity

#31

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
4
The institutional capacity for strategic planning in Slovakia is weak. Capacities for planning in the ministries are limited, and there is no central policy-planning unit in the Government Office. The fragmented nature and the rigid departmentalism of public administration in the country have complicated strategic planning. So has the high degree of staff turnover which, driven as it is by a politicized public administration, limits the continuity of institutional expertise. The strengthening of the expertise of the Government Office and the creation of the Council for Solidarity and Development, an advisory body, under the second Fico government have failed to improve planning capacities in any substantial way. Since the government reshuffle in March 2018, the institutional capacity for strategic planning has not been improved.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
5
Slovak governments rely on various permanent or temporary advisory committees. Prime ministers have their own advisory body. Former Prime Minister Fico’s advisers largely came from his circle of associates and included only a few truly independent experts. This pattern has not changed since the 2018 reshuffling of government. There are several public research institutions with close linkages to ministries that are largely dependent on state funding and provide their analysis to the government. However, the impact of any of these bodies on decision-making is not really transparent. Within the ministries, expert advice is provided by so-called “analytical centers,” which are separated units composed of experts with different backgrounds, but a common sense of mission. Under the Fico governments, contact between ministers and non-governmental experts was rather rare, and this has not really changed under Fico’s successor, Pellegrini. The lack of input from external experts often leads to poorly prepared policy drafts, which subsequently have to be revised ex post or withdrawn.

Citations:
Sedlačko, M., K. Staroňová (2018). Internal ministerial advisory bodies: An attempt to transform governing in the Slovak Republic, in: Central European Journal of Public Policy 12(1), 1-16.

Interministerial Coordination

#38

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
5
Slovakia has a strong tradition of departmentalism and collegial cabinets, and these two features have deepened under the current coalition, comprised of three very different partners. The Government Office focuses on the legal and technical coherence of draft bills, but lacks the capacity and sectoral expertise to evaluate their policy content.

Citations:
Blondel, J., F. Müller-Rommel, D. Malová et al. (2007): Governing New Democracies. Basingstoke/ London: Palgrave.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
4
In Slovakia, the government manifesto defines certain priorities that are elaborated in legislative plans. These additionally divide tasks and responsibilities among the line ministries and other central bodies, and set deadlines for the submission of bills to the cabinet. In their policy-development process, the line ministries legally must include a range of institutions and interest groups that are defined as stakeholders in their respective fields. Ministries are also obliged to consult with the Government Office and its legislative council as they develop bills. However, full responsibility for drafting bills has traditionally rested with the line ministries, and consultation with the Government Office is mainly technical. Prime Minister Fico tried to increase the monitoring activities of the Government Office, especially those related to EU structural funds. Peter Pellegrini, his successor, has continued this approach.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
6
The importance of cabinet and ministerial committees has varied over time in Slovakia, with every government modifying the committee structure. Since the parliamentary elections in 2016, there has been only one cabinet committee composed exclusively of ministers, the Council for National Security. Other ministerial committees consisting of ministers and senior civil servants and chaired by the four appointed vice prime ministers or line ministers have played a major role in the preparation of government proposals, and have been quite effective in settling controversial issues prior to cabinet meetings. However, they are still neither formally nor systematically involved in the preparation of cabinet meetings, partly as these bodies usually reside at the line ministries.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
5
In Slovakia, senior ministry officials have traditionally been heavily involved in the interministerial coordination process at the drafting stage. In contrast, coordination at the lower levels of the ministerial bureaucracy has suffered from a strong departmentalist culture and the top-down approach taken in most ministries. Since the 2016 elections, SNS and Most-Híd have further weakened the role and independence of the civil service by seeking to provide ministerial positions to party members.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
4
Informal coordination has played a significant, yet ambivalent role in policy coordination. On the one hand, the Pellegrini government has sought to complement the formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination through a complex system of coalition councils, meetings and agreements. On the other hand, former prime minister Robert Fico has frequently tried to undermine coalition compromises by capitalizing on his power within Smer-SDS. As a result, the governing coalition went through a number of coordination crises in the period under review. In late 2018, Smer-SD and SNS opposed Slovakia joining the U.N. Global Migration Compact, which had been approved by the country in July 2018 when Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák served as president of the U.N. General Assembly. In October 2019, the Pellegrini government withdrew a healthcare reform, which had already been approved by the cabinet, but was opposed by Fico. Also in October 2019, Smer-SD and SNS ignored opposition from their coalition partner, and the concerns of Prime Minister Pellegrini and other senior cabinet figures to join forces with the far-right opposition party ĽSNS to pass a bill prolonging the moratorium on the publication of pre-election opinion polls.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
4
Slovakia lags behind many EU member states with regard to digitalization. In October 2017, the government published the Detailed Action Plan on the Digitization of Public Administration. The government aim is to develop an e-government system for citizens, public administration, businesses and academia. In November 2017, an amendment to the Act on e-Government became effective which has introduced a central delivery system for official documents. As it stands, however, digital technologies play only a limited role in interministerial coordination.

Evidence-based Instruments

#28

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
6
When RIAs were introduced in Slovakia back in 2001, no central unit in charge of RIA was created at the government’s core. In response, the first Fico government introduced a Uniform Methodology of Assessment of Selected Impacts in 2008, which was updated by the Radičová government in 2010. The “RIA 2020 Better Regulation Strategy” which was approved by the cabinet in January 2018 has further strengthened the methodological basis for assessing the economic impact of regulation in particular. However, within the period under review, the RIA 2020 framework and other impact assessment tools have not yielded the expected results. One central problem is that impact assessments only apply to measures initiated by the government. Moreover, ministries still often struggle with the quantification of wider impacts, focusing mainly on budgetary impacts and, to a lesser extent, impacts on business.

Citations:
OECD (2019): Indicators of Regulatory Policy and Governance Europe 2019: Slovak Republic. Paris (http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/indicators-of-regulatory-policy-and-governance-2019-slovak-republic.pdf).

Staroňová, K. (2016): Regulatory Impact Assessment in Slovakia: Performance and Procedural Reform, in: Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 34(3): 214-227.

Staronova, K., Hejzlarová, E., Hondliková, K. (2017): Making Regulatory Impact Assessment Gender-Sensitive: The Case of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in: Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences 51(E): 89-105 (http://rtsa.ro/tras/index.php/tras/article/download/526/515).

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
5
Procedures for public consultations in the later stage of the regulation-making process are well developed, and include the automatic publication of all legislative documents on the government portal. However, the strong focus of Slovak RIA on the impact on the business sector means that business associations are involved in the process more strongly than other stakeholders. Quality control suffers from fragmentation. In the Permanent Working Committee of the Legislative Council, four ministries are involved in checking the quality of regulatory impact assessments (Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family), with the Economic Analysis Division of the Ministry of Economy playing a coordinating role. While the creation of this committee has led to some improvement, the RIA process would further benefit from making one central government body responsible for evaluating integrated impacts rather than spreading the responsibility across several ministries.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
3
The RIA methodology manual requires that sustainability concerns be incorporated in assessment reports. In practice, however, sustainability checks do not feature very prominently and are not undertaken in a comprehensive manner. This might change as a result of the ongoing revision of the country’s sustainable development strategy. Slovakia took part in the 2018 voluntary national review of the U.N. High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and has initiated a review of the country’s national sustainable development strategy with a view to incorporating the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Coordinated by Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and Information Richard Raši, the review process has included broad stakeholder participation and the creation of the Government Council for Agenda 2030, involving key line ministers, as well as representatives of NGOs, academia, the private sector, and associations of cities and regions of the Slovak Republic.

Citations:
Deputy Prime Minister’s Office for Investments and Informatization of the Slovak Republic (2018): Voluntary National Review of the Slovak Republic on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Bratislava (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/20131Agenda2030_VNR_Slovakia.pdf).

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
3
Ex post evaluations have not been required by law so far. If they have been carried out, they have focused mainly on administrative burdens. The RIA 2020 Better Regulation Strategy, approved by the cabinet in January 2018, envisaged more comprehensive ex post evaluations. However, implementation of the strategy has been slow.

Citations:
OECD (2019): Indicators of Regulatory Policy and Governance Europe 2019: Slovak Republic. Paris (http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/indicators-of-regulatory-policy-and-g overnance-2019-slovak-republic.pdf).

Societal Consultation

#29

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
5
In Slovakia, comprehensive legal requirements for the consultation with societal actors, including social dialogue in the tripartite Economic and Social Council, exist. However, the three Fico governments did not assign much importance to consultation with societal actors. Despite the deep chasm that emerged in Slovak society following the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová in February 2018, the Pellegrini government has not tried to increase its legitimacy by taking public consultation more seriously. While the government has intensified its “travel” meetings in underdeveloped regions, these meetings have primarily led to increases in government spending rather than improvements in government policies. One of the rare positive examples of public consultation involved the Agenda 2030 process, which developed in an inclusive manner.

Policy Communication

#31

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
4
The formation of a coalition government after the 2016 parliamentary elections has made it more difficult to streamline government communication. However, until the coalition crisis in August 2017, SNS and Most-Híd, the junior coalition partners, were cautious to avoid engaging in open conflict. Since the resignation of former prime minister Fico, however, the coherence of government communication has deteriorated. In a number of cases, most notably the recent healthcare reform, government coalition parties have failed to streamline their communication. The upcoming parliamentary elections in February 2020 have driven the government coalition partners to pursue more “independent” office-seeking strategies.

Implementation

#38

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
4
The government manifesto of the third Fico government reiterated many goals of his previous ones. Although it comprised around 70 pages, it lacked action plans, timelines and budgets. After the reshuffling of the government in March 2018, the new prime minister did not formulate new policy goals, but declared that his government would adhere to the existing manifesto. Implementation of the manifesto has been limited. Previously announced education and healthcare reforms have been delayed or tackled in an erratic manner. The much-awaited healthcare reform was eventually presented in September 2019, but then withdrawn as Smer-SD leader Robert Fico did not support the cabinet’s draft law. Regarding education, the government increased teacher salaries by 10% and updated its education strategy in 2019. However, the latter has suffered from a number of gaps. Little progress has been made with the promised improvements to public transport infrastructure.

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
5
Since the 2016 elections, ministerial compliance has been complicated by the fact that the government rests on an “unnatural” coalition that includes parties as diverse as the Slovak National Party (SNS) and the mostly Hungarian minority based party Most-Híd (Bridge). The vagueness of the government manifesto and the weakness of Prime Minister Pellegrini have allowed ministers to pursue sectoral interests and to follow party lines. Several ministers of the junior coalition partners are political newcomers, and have proven difficult to integrate and more or less are dependent on coalition party leaders. Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Family Ján Richter, for instance, followed Smer-SD leader Robert Fico’s populist call to abolish the automatic increase in the retirement age, even though it contradicted the government manifesto.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
5
When returning to power in 2012, Prime Minister Robert Fico expanded the Government Office’s responsibilities in monitoring line ministries, particularly with respect to European affairs and economic and fiscal issues. Since the 2016 parliamentary elections, the existence of coalition governments has complicated the central monitoring of line ministries, especially the monitoring of ministries led by junior coalition partners. Under Prime Minister Pellegrini, even the monitoring of the ministries led by Smer-SD has weakened, since many ministers have been more loyal to Robert Fico, the Smer-SD leader and former prime minister, than to Pellegrini.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
5
Slovakia features a large number of agencies increasingly subject to politicization. Leaders of agencies or semi-autonomous entities are selected on the basis of their party affiliation and social connections (family bonds) rather than their expertise and public reputation. The politicization of agencies has not changed under the Pellegrini government.

Citations:
Nemec, J. (2018): Slovakia, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 896-897 (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/a7c9b4c2-960 f-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
6
In Slovakia, the degree of decentralization is relatively high. However, funding for subnational governments has been precarious. About a third of the revenues come from state transfers. While the shares of both municipalities and regional self-governments in personal income tax revenues have substantially risen since 2014, subnational governments have continued to complain about unfunded mandates. Their strong reliance on personal income tax has made their revenues highly dependent on the performance of the economy. Nonetheless, the Association of Towns and Communities of Slovakia (ZMOS) is a powerful player and has been relatively successful in articulating the interests of municipalities vis-à-vis the central government. Nevertheless, due to limited financing, municipalities – 70% of which have less than 1,000 inhabitants – are often restricted to providing basic public services and infrastructure, thereby diverting resources from social services, education, land planning and construction permits.

Citations:
Nemec, J. (2018): Slovakia, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 891-894 (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/a7c9b4c2-960f-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
3
All Fico-led governments pursued a hands-on approach limiting the constitutional discretion of subnational governments. Under the Pellegrini government, the politics of direct patronage for party-loyal municipalities (such as building sports facilities in towns and villages led by Smer-SD party members) has continued. As Smer-SD lost all regional capitals to predominantly independent candidates or candidates supported by the opposition parties in the municipal elections in November 2018, the tensions between central government and subnational governments have increased. In a joint statement in November 2019, the Chair of the Association of Towns and Communities of Slovakia (ZMOS), and the Chair of Supreme Audit Office argued that central government must base its transfers to municipalities on economic and legal rather than political criteria. The fact that several municipalities have increased property taxes and waste disposal charges, and some are even planning to introduce a development fee, has increased tensions between central government and municipalities. Leading Smer-SD figures have criticized mayors for fueling political dissatisfaction in the run up to the parliamentary elections in February 2020.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
4
Public-service standards are poorly defined, especially with regard to the independent functions of subnational governments. Moreover, the monitoring of compliance with these standards is often fragmented. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for overseeing subnational self-government, but largely focuses on formal compliance with existing laws and cost efficiency. While the ministry regularly monitors all levels of self-government, the number of breaches of the law and the extent and effects of ministerial intervention are not transparent. Clearly, there are differences between national and EU standards that negatively influence the effective use of EU structural funds.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
3
A core weakness of the Slovak public administration system is the politicization of public decision-making and the influence of economic lobbies and other organized interest groups on policymaking. Thus, government agencies tend to enforce regulations ineffectively and demonstrate bias in their activity.

Adaptability

#30

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
4
In the past, Slovakia’s ability to adapt domestic government structures to international and supranational developments, most notably at the EU level, has been weak and its performance ambiguous and confusing. Despite several attempts at reform, the rate of absorption of EU funds has remained low, as the absorption of EU funds has been hindered by dysfunctional planning procedures, poor project design and selection, and the failure to comply with the requirements of environmental impact assessments. Recommendations by European Union or international organizations like the OECD, Council of Europe or U.N. divisions have been considered selectively. Due to various scandals in the education sector and the misuse of EU funds, Slovakia’s access to financial support from the European Union has tightened. Overall, Slovakia continues to perform poorly in drawing EU funds. As the European Commission states the lack of capacities, and strategic planning and administrative inefficiencies hamper the use of EU funds. Distribution of funds to final beneficiaries remains low. As a result, Slovakia lost €120 million in funding for R&I and regional development in the period under review.

Citations:
N.N. (2019): Slovakia is the worst at drawing EU funds, in: Slovak Spectator, February 29 (https://spectator.sme.sk/c/22062597/slovakia-is-the-worst-at-drawing-eu-funds.html).

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
6
Because of its size, Slovakia’s capacity to shape strategic global frameworks is limited. For a long time, the country was eager to be seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner within NATO and European Union. However, Slovakia’s reputation and standing in the European Union has suffered from Slovakia aligning with the position of other Visegrád countries in the EU refugee crisis and from Speaker of Parliament Andrej Danko’s ongoing “flirtation” with Russia. The Pellegrini government has sought to reposition Slovakia among the core group of EU member states, and has been keen to distance Slovakia from some of the positions taken by Hungary and Poland. In 2018, Slovakia has also been actively involved in two major international initiatives. It participated in the voluntary national review of the SDGs and elevated them to a national priority. Moreover, as acting UN General Assembly president from September 2017 to September 2018, the Slovak foreign minister Miroslav Lajčák, was intensively involved in the formulation of the UN’s Global Migration Compact. Eventually, however, the SNS, one of the junior coalition partners, prevented the Slovak signing of the Global Migration Compact. The resulting loss of credibility complicated Slovakia’s OSCE chairmanship in 2019.

Organizational Reform

#38

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
3
There is no regular and systematic self-monitoring of institutional arrangements in Slovakia. Governments and governmental bodies (such as the parliament, Government Office) must issue annual reports and a final report at the end of their term in office, however, these documents focus more on policies and formal financial accounting rather than institutional design. In addition, there are sporadic audits within particular ministries. The institutions and processes of governing are analyzed only infrequently and selectively. Shortcomings in audit procedures persist.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
5
Since the parliamentary elections in June 2016, the institutional arrangements of governing have remained largely unchanged. The new Pellegrini government has not initiated any major institutional reforms so far. However, some progress has been made in the implementation of earlier reforms. For example, the Office for the Protection of Whistleblowers was launched in March 2019. This agency is an independent, national institution, which is mandated to protect whistleblowers by monitoring compliance with the law, providing expert opinions and advice on the application of the law, and offering rewards to those who report unlawful activities. It is not yet clear how the office can contribute to the protection of whistleblowers in a country that lacks a culture of respect for whistleblowers.
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