Regional Innovation Policy of New EU-Member States and Applicant Member States: Slovakia and Turkey
Oleg Shatberashvili – Chairman, Association European Studies for Innovative Development of Georgia
The regional innovation policy is one of the main components of the EU’s multilevel innovation policy and a strong development tool. Accordingly, the elaboration and implementation of such policy for the countries participating in the European integration process is a serious challenge to be necessarily answered by them. This fully concerns Georgia too, where the talk on the regional innovation policy started already in 2010, although without taking practical steps. Hence, the experience of the EU Member-States of developing and implementing the regional innovation policy is of interest for Georgia. Of particular interest are the countries of the former Socialist bloc, who have become EU Member States, also the candidate countries. For this purpose, two countries have been selected – Slovakia (Member) and Turkey (Candidate). This selection is substantiated in the main part of the article. Their regional innovation strategies and current outcomes of implementation of these strategies are considered. The regional innovation policy is shown to be greatly dependent on the arrangement of a country’s regions and administration/management tradition. Also shown is the role of local and central governments in the development and implementation of a regional innovation policy. This role is different in Slovakia and Turkey, because their management decentralization degree is different. This notwithstanding, the both countries have developed and are operating the tools of regional innovation that comply with the general experience and strategic documents of the European Union. Like in other Member States of the EU, the same actors are involved in the process, although differences also exist. For example, Turkey makes more active use of free zones and organized industrial zones, which are less applicable in the EU Member States. In Slovakia, in contrast to Turkey, self-government initiatives play much greater role. Georgia, as a non-member, non-candidate country, has comparatively more freedom of action and can, thus, resort to and use the experience of both countries to a greater extent. Moreover, at the current stage it can, with a definite caution, apply to the experience of other, non-European countries as well. As it seems, given that Georgia’s regions greatly differ from one another, a different blend of the approved and tested tools may be used in their innovation strategy.