The Via Carpatia EGTC, which covers the territory of the Košice region and the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, started preparing the Cross-Border Territorial Action Plan for Employment (TAPE) in December 2016. The target area of the plan, which will be supported by the Slovakia-Hungary INTERREG V-A program, is almost identical to the Cserehát region. The real focus of the action plan is to propose frameworks for the Krásny Cserehát cross-border program. The area of intervention of the Krásny Cserehát cross-border program is identical with the rural area, which spans between the cities of Košice and Miskolc. The south westernmost town is Edelény, the south easternmost town is Encs: the northern border is near the villages of Háj, Debraď, Paňovce, Veľká Ida and Kechnec. The planned area includes 75 Hungarian and 26 Slovak settlements.
The area can be characterized by two natural landmarks: the basin in terms of the surrounding mountains (Bükk, Zemplín Mountains, Aggteleki-karszt and the Northern Carpathia); and the hilly part in terms of the Great Hungarian Plain, and in terms of the rivers Bodva and Hornád. This duality is generated due to special geological development.
The hilly area is situated mainly on the Hungarian side, but its northern part and Mokraď Kaňapta are situated in Slovakia. The northern slopes of Cserehát are situated in Mokraď Kaňapta, where we can also find the southernmost villages of the analyzed area, such as Janík, Rešica, Buzica, Vyšný Lánec, Perín-Chym. The forest areas on the Hungarian side are gradually receding, so only smaller forest areas are visible on the Slovak side. Parts of Mokraď Kaňapta were covered with swamps even in the 18th century, and their water supplies were secured by the small rivers of the Carpathians. Swamps do not exist there these days, instead we can find excavated canals and streams that flow into the area. The primary use of the land is arable land.
Based on the examination of the surface of the analyzed area, it is visible that the ratio of deciduous forests is almost the same on both sides of the border. But tillage is much more dominant on the Slovak side, while the Hungarian area is more heterogeneous, which means that in addition to arable land, we can also find pastures or shrubs there.
The territory of Cserehát is natural so that it can use rainwater, but this situation complicates water management in several areas. Identical groundwater level can be found only in the Hornád and Bodva valleys.
In the area we can also find several smaller stagnant waters. A smaller pond can be found in villages such as Selyeb and Baktakék.
By the river Hornád we can find stagnant waters in several villages, such as Hernádszurdok, Hernádvécs and Garadna. The most remarkable stagnant water is a lake or reservoir in the village of Rakaca, with a size of 190 ha and an average depth of 2.5-3 m. There are often no stagnant waters in Slovakia, but we can find them in the villages such as Turňa nad Bodvou, Perín-Chym and Milhosť, which have a size of 10 ha. There are smaller ponds in the villages such as Janík and Paňovce.
Based on the classification of localities on the basis of population, we can clearly say that the settlement system is relatively fragmented, scattered. Large parts of the settlement in the cross-border region are considered as settlements, little, small, and medium-sized villages. 90% of the settlement in the area of the action plan is characterized by this category. Little settlements make up the majority (50%) and have a population of 100 to 500 inhabitants. The Hungarian side is even more fragmented than the Slovak side. All 14 settlements in the region are part of Hungary, and every fifth settlement has less than hundred inhabitants. The proportion of medium-sized villages, large villages and small towns is greater in the northern part of Hungary than in the southern part.
As can be seen on the following map, cities are missing in the analyzed area. Every second settlement can be characterized as little villages, i.e. 51 settlements out of 101. Only two cities are directly located in the cross-border region. If we add the city of Encs, which is one huge village with city status, then we find a total of three cities in the cross-border region. All cities are small towns; this means that larger urban centers are located outside the analyzed area, but have an impact on the area.
One of the most important aspects of the geographical settlement of the region is the relative position to large cities, i.e. cities such as Košice and Miskolc.
In relation to the hierarchy of settlement, the largest and most important city in the wider region is the seat of the self-governing region, Košice. The city is the historical center of the entire cross-border area up to the gravitational zone of Miskolc, including the analyzed area on the Hungarian side of Abaúj, and including the city of Encs. The city of Košice is situated close to the state borders, so the city has generated a cross-border metropolitan area around it in the last one and a half decade. Its agglomeration is cross-border and is influenced by the elements and driving force of suburbanization.
The existing development of road infrastructure and ongoing construction work will have an impact on transport and transportation in the region.
Insufficient infrastructure is also manifested in several areas of tourism: tourist information (marketing, information boards, visitor centers, etc.), showers, toilets, auxiliary infrastructure (supports activities such as cycling, kayaking, canoeing, tourism, or horseback riding, etc.). Fortunately, the lack of tourist infrastructure allows the region itself to define its tourist nature and development from the ground up.
The most important tourist potentials are the following: religious tourism, which is built on the legend of St. Ladislav; hunting tourism, which is built on very favorable conditions; horseback riding; untouched nature offers opportunities for health tourism; gastronomic tourism based on high quality restaurants and local products; active tourism (for example: Zádielska dolina, National Blue Trail in Hungary); and water tourism on the river Hornád. The region has exceptional characteristics and so the region itself could handle activities that support recreation (active tourism, eco-tourism, etc.).
The attractive landscape features of the region may mean that tourism can fill an existing gap in the tertiary sector. Unfortunately, infrastructure and tourist services are at a very low level.
It should be emphasized that there has been significant development in the field of accommodation capacity.
The relative proximity of the international airport and the Košice railway terminal generates great economic development potential for the entire region. More efficient and better infrastructure could strengthen the development potential of businesses in the region, and development could also generate new investment.
The potential in international tourism also lies on this scale and horizon.
The distance from western economic centers (unfavorable geographical and transport location) and human resource problems (inability to adapt to the new market situation) have generated and are generating a dramatic decline that still limits opportunities for increasing employment. As a result, the regions of eastern Slovakia and north-eastern Hungary are the most affected regions in terms of key economic indicators (GDP per capita, wages and income, unemployment indicators, competitiveness, etc.)
Cross-border employment and the expansion of such employment could be influenced by companies, but these economic “players” also have countless problems at the local level. Low incomes and wages are affected by the overall economic backwardness of the region and the limited internal market generates constraints on development and progress. Export opportunities are significantly limited by competition from the economic area of the European Union, as lower invested capital and technological backwardness generate products with low competitiveness and these are unable to compete.
On the other hand, business opportunities are further limited by the lack of financial and business literacy that is often visible. This means that ‘mainstream’ economic and development approaches must be replaced by alternative and local solutions that build and are based on local specificities.
Without the necessary technology and capital, agricultural products remain at a low level of processing.
On the other hand, competitive agriculture is also being built, which prefers livestock production, fruit and vegetable growing instead of extensive cereal growing. In the valley of central Hornád and in the north-eastern part of Cserehát we can find typical fruit products such as an apple, a pear, a plum and a walnut.
Local producers see considerable untapped potential in the field of herbs and their harvesting. The failures of initiatives and attempts in this field are mostly generated through a lack of initial working capital, i.e. the buyer does not have enough financial resources to pay for the harvest herbs immediately. Another important factor of local possibilities is honey. This means that the region is rich in acacia forests and there are also grasses that support beekeeping and its activity. The biggest problem in the field of beekeepers is generated on two levels. The lack of a market where they could sell their honey products on the one hand and on the other hand it is insufficient cooperation and collaboration between individual beekeepers in the region.
On the Slovak side, corn, soybeans, rape and sunflower dominate within an agricultural activity and agricultural land. This agricultural orientation produces unprocessed products, so it would be better to focus on activities that promote high value-added agricultural products.
These activities could be started by launching more mills. At the business meetings, it was discussed that the city of Encs needed more mills. Especially on the Slovak side, the production of cereals dominates, which has reached such an extensive rate that it is responsible for soil erosion.
Local agricultural production is present on the Hungarian and Slovak side of the analyzed area, but individual products, their distribution and sale are different. The common philosophy on both sides is that local agricultural production produces products in smaller quantities and has a unique character.
Other products known from the area of Cserehát: Pumpkin seeds, Pumpkin oil, various berries, herbs, fruits, vegetable.
Fruit growing, brandy and wine production have a rich tradition in Hungarian territory. A regional gastronomic unique is the pretzel on the Hungarian (Somodi) but also on the Slovak (Drienovec) side.
Gönci Marhuľovica is probably the most famous product from the region.
Regional sales of certain products require management and logistical capacity.
The main obstacle for these businesses is the lack of skilled labor. A significant problem is that employee training is not linked to socialization in specific businesses. This serious problem subsequently generates that trained workers leave their job after a few weeks and are transferred, or even “run away”, to a public employment program, where they are under lower mental pressure. Addressing this problem and the phenomenon requires additional mentoring programs.
The quality and quantity of human capital is closely linked to economic competitiveness.
In all regional development plans, the most important development goal is employment, in both cases this issue is number one. The Hungarian plan emphasizes business competitiveness and employment as a first priority. As part of this, it focuses on the development of micro-enterprises and the support of small and medium-sized enterprises. An important goal is the production of local, mainly agricultural products, intended for local and regional markets. The intention is to improve the sale of raw materials and processed products produced in the countryside and sold on larger urban markets. In the case of the Košice region, the first of the three main goals of the plan is to create new workplaces. Employment is based mainly on IT, the creative industry, logistics and tourism development.´
Employment is also an important part of the development plans of Slovak rural settlements. The level of qualifications should be raised and new workplaces should be created for local people in their settlements or in larger employment centers. Employment is a tool to increase social inclusion. The production of local products is also a part of the most important parts of these development plans. Agricultural production and processing of agricultural products are a priority in the case of the district of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén.
As for the development of tourism, it is a priority, especially on the Hungarian side. In the development program of the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén region, services and cooperation are discussed within the priority development of tourist attractions. According to the document, it is very important to have coordinated marketing and sales activities in the field of tourism. The Abaúj-Cserehát region needs a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) and, in particular, its marketing and organizational functions should be supported, as set out in the development plan. The focus is on religious, water, cycling and hiking tourism, as well as the development of local products within the tourist offers. The Slovak side has similar goals, the document pays attention to rural tourism and agritourism. Gaps in relation to these parts of tourism need to be filled. In addition, the lack of cooperation should be addressed. Coordination, including sufficient marketing, is directed at the regional level.
In terms of education and training, the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén program pays more attention to these areas than the Slovak partners. The horizontal objective of the document is to increase the employment of disadvantaged and disabled people. It is important to implement educational activities suitable for regional economic development. The field of education also includes consulting and information activities and the development of competencies. Vocational training includes: company internships, support for dual training, career guidance system that supports skills improvement, language skills development, intensified cooperation between vocational training centers and enterprises, adult education and public education, introduction of a new form of lifelong learning.