Today’s Hungarian rural development is defined by the fact, that Hungary will be a member state of the European Union from May 1, 2003. Our accession means the end of a long period, and new rural development programs that are going to build on the basic of previously accepted EU standards and experience will highlight the immediate future.
...>From the Hungarian rural development programs I especially dealt with the SAPARD, AVOP and NVT, which in my opinion had and will have the greatest influence on the improvement of the Hungarian county. The AVOP and NVT are still under development (or just submitted to the EU), but their role in the future will be particularly essential, because these programs are going the act as the first programs in Hungary as a member state and a lot will depend on them in the improvement of the rural development.
The comprehensive agricultural policy of Slovenia during the setting-up of its agricultural institutional system for implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy has enabled the setting-up and design of the Paying Agency system to handle national and EU subsidies according to schedule. The country has acted on the advice of the European Uni...on to use the introduction of SAPARD measures as a preparatory and experimental field for utilising subsidies after EU accession. Moreover, in addition to the importance of gaining practical experience in the field of implementation of rural development measures, Slovenia has recognised the necessity to become familiar with the application procedures for obtaining direct payments relevant for the largest group of beneficiaries, farmers. Accordingly, farmers have been practicing for 3 years how to fill in application forms, and have gained important experience before opening the most relevant resources. Also, the advisers supporting farmers to obtain subsidies have been trained during the last 3 years, in order to provide real assistance. EU agricultural subsidies are not divided among the Member States; there will be a strong competition not only with the new Member States, but also with the farmers of the more developed EU-15.
Slovenia has done its best in order to launch its farmers – due to the different development levels of the EU-25 Member States – into this very strong competition not like pupils, but at least like mature secondary school students.
Presently, the process of regionalization is slowly progressing in Hungary. The regional institutional system is young and the institutional experiences are limited. The Hungarian regional development agencies are operated with a limited number of personnel and their budget is only a fraction of EU regional agencies of similar size. There is no... unequivocal cooperation between regional development agencies and county development agencies. In the absence of these, the strategical objectives of the region cannot be aligned and the application of consistent development policies cannot be achieved. In the past five-six years the supports from EU Pre-Accession Funds, along with the new tools of regional development policies, have all contributed to the development of the North Great Plain Region. Phare projects – beside supporting development – have played a significant role in forming the approach of individuals who are actively involved in regional development, in promoting cooperation among cross-border and other regions, as well as in preparing the regions to accept EU structural funds. Prior to the May 1st, 2004 EU accession of Hungary, the North Great Plain Region received 24-25% in direct regional development funds in the Nineties. The support per capita in the case of TFC, TEKI and CÉDE has exceeded the national average. The North Great Plain Region has received support from investment type agricultural supports, the Employment Fund and the Touristical Directives that well exceeded the national average, from the sectoral resource funds. However, the applicants of the North Great Plain Region have received little support in the case of environmental, water management and especially road development supports. About 200 applications have been submitted for the SAPARD calls nationally, 32 of these were from the North Great Plain Region. The significance of cooperation among sub-regions is demonstrated by the fact that, except for 15 settlements in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, all have submitted an application. The efforts of inhabitants is highlighted by the high number of submitted applications, as well as by the significant degree of own contribution. Still, the GDP of the North Great Plain Region has not increased, the rate and tendency of unemployment does not sufficiently reflect the positive effect of supports. The Regional Development Directive has provided support for the development of many small- and medium size enterprises, but their effect did not ensure a sustained economic growth.
The greatest difficulty is that the number of dedicated professionals who are skilled in regional politics and regional development is few. However, advantages of our EU accession can only be exploited if a group of highly skilled professionals is provided on local, county, regional and national level as well. Thus, we need a group of professionals who are informed about the European Union, the EU support forms and most of all about the operation of Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds to establish the suitable institutional background for professionally handling the funds obtained from the EU, to prepare the professional documents to access the funds and to generate development projects to efficiently use the funds as well as establishing connections with the institutions of the EU. Appropriate share from funds coming from the EU is only possible if the country, certain regions, counties and sub-regions can achieve rapid results in the areas listed above.