Author: Marieta Okenkova (SUA)
Editor: Miranda García (AEIDL)
As part of the ongoing efforts of Tools4CAP, national multi-stakeholder focus groups are being organised to facilitate inclusive discussions and meaningful exchanges among diverse stakeholders. The Slovak Focus Group, specifically dedicated to participatory and multi-stakeholder tools, convened on 9 – 10 October 2023 within the framework of the International Conference on Cooperation of central European countries in the area of rural tourism. The event was co-organised by key entities, including the Slovak Association for Rural Tourism and Agritourism, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic, Rural Parliament in Slovakia, and the Slovak University of Agriculture.
The structure of the Focus Group revolved around several rounds of discussions. The plenary session provided an introduction to the project’s goals and expected outcomes, drawing a diverse audience of over 80 people. While not all attendees were directly involved in the preparation of the Slovak CAP Strategic Plan, their willingness to contribute outsider perspectives greatly enriched the discussions. Subsequent sessions explored broader topics and engaged participants through breakout groups, individual consultations, and interactions with volunteering participants, fostering in-depth insights and contributions.
Several stakeholders with diverse backgrounds actively participated in the interactive discussions, with some expressing their interest in future involvement. This platform offered a unique opportunity to engage in discussions regarding the design of the Slovak CAP Strategic Plan. Notably, discussions with the State Secretary and representatives from various departments of the responsible Ministry took place ahead of the national parliamentary elections held at the end of October. Their insights were very valuable, given their leadership in the process and not publicly shared. among the main challenges identified was the late approval of the EU legislation in summer of 2022, requiring some quick amendments to the draft plan. The draft CAP Strategic Plan was published on the Ministry’s website and underwent an inter-ministerial consultation procedure before submission for approval by the Government of the Slovak Republic.
In Slovakia, a primary tool for stakeholder engagement was the establishment of a Working Group by the Minister, involving all relevant social-economic partners in the field of agriculture. Subsequently, in the spring of 2021, sub-groups for individual interventions were formed, allowing for exploration of challenges, potential limitations, and functionalities of these tools. The draft CAP Strategic Plan was published on the Ministry’s website and underwent the inter-ministerial consultation procedure before submission for approval by the Government of the Slovak Republic. A series of training sessions involving various ministerial departments initiated engagement and collaboration.
This platform enabled participants to interact, share experiences, and offer suggestions for future improvements. Remarkably, this was the first forum of its kind, providing insights into the challenges faced by the responsible authority, which may not have been readily apparent to users. In this context, regular exchanges of this nature could help capture diverse perspectives and enhance understanding of challenges associated with designing CAP Strategic Plans under specific circumstances. These practical findings have the potential to enhance the understanding of the strengths and limitations of CAP Strategic Plan design at the national level, contributing to its refinement in future programming periods. Opportunities for improving stakeholder engagement exist on both sides, at the level of managing authority and among stakeholders themselves.