The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Slovakia:
1. Waste Management
Slovakia is doing a poor job of managing its waste, at least according to the latest review by the European Commission. A study drawn up for EC lists Slovakia as being among those EU member countries with severe problems in several criteria including waste prevention policies, a below-average performance in waste management and insufficient adaptation of existing infrastructure to EU requirements. While some Slovak experts see Slovakia’s ranking as reflecting reality, the Slovak Ministry of Environment argues that Slovakia is actually performing better than the EC suggests.The report on how EU member states manage their municipal waste, drawn up by German consulting firm BiPRO for the European Commission, grades the EU’s 27 member states against 18 criteria, using green, orange and red flags in areas such as total waste recycled, pricing of waste disposal, and infringements of European legislation. In the top places according to this ranking came Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Greece, Bulgaria, Malta and Lithuania were at the bottom. Slovakia ended in 19th place, below the other three Visegrad Group countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland).
2. Water Management
On the implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, Slovakia had a final deadline till 31st December 2015 to comply with the rules (as set in its Accession Treaty). So far, the Commission has checked Slovakia’s compliance with the Accession Treaty’s intermediate deadlines of 2004, 2008 and 2010. The 2016 Court of Auditors report ‘Danube river basin II: Quality of water’ stated that there is a lack of ambition in the Member States concerned including Slovakia to address causes of pollution. It stated that Member States are not using all the possibilities offered by the Nitrates Directive. The European Court Of Auditors also stated that there was progress made in implementing the water framework directive but it still had some way to go, in relation to the water quality in the Danube river basin. According to the latest data, 99.6% of waste water is collected in Slovakia. Of this, 97.9% undergoes secondary treatment and 57.2% undergoes more stringent treatment.
3. Noise Pollution
Based on a limited set of data, environmental noise causes at least 200 premature deaths per year in Slovakia and is responsible for around 500 hospital admissions. Noise also disturbs the sleep of roughly 90,000 people in Slovakia. The implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive has been significantly delayed. According to the latest full set of information that could be analysed, (i.e. 2012 for noise maps and 2013 for action plans) noise mapping for most major roads is significantly delayed and most major roads and all major railways are still missing from the action plans.
A total of 650,000 Slovaks (12.4 percent of the population) were threatened by poverty in 2017. Inhabitants of the Bratislava region have the lowest poverty risk (4.6 percent), but in the east of Slovakia the threat is three times as high – 18.1 percent in the Prešov Region and 15.5 percent in the Košice region. Three regions in western Slovakia are under the national poverty risk threshold, and the situation is stabilising in central Slovakia, but has been deteriorating in the east of the country.
The position on the labour market impacts the poverty risk the most, with the unemployed at the highest risk (49.5 percent, a rise in 1.5 percentage points against the previous year).
5. Gender Discrimination
The Gender Equality Index, 2015 was presented in Bratislava. It scrutinises the situation in six basic areas (profession, finances, knowledge, time, power and health) while quantifying the difference between women and men in EU member states. Based on this information, the Index allocated scores from one to 100 points where 1 means total unequality and 1000 absolute gender equality. With its average score of 36.5 points, Slovakia was beaten only by Romania as the country with top inequality. The Gender Equality Index 2015 maps development between 2005 and 2012. Slovakia placed worst (17.7 point) in time: only eight percent of men and 62 percent of women cook and do household chores for at least an hour a day. Thus, the primary household and family care still falls on women.