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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 29, 2009
Economic Forum in Toruń
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Counting EU Blessings
April 29, 2009 By A.R.    
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The 16th Economic Forum was held April 20-21 in Toruń under the slogan, “Poland: 5 years in the European Union, 20 Years After the Roundtable Talks.”

Organized by the Integration and Cooperation Association, the forum attracted several hundred politicians, businesspeople and academics who summed up the transformation of Poland after the collapse of communism in 1989, 10 years of NATO membership and five years of EU membership.

EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hübner said that over its five years in the EU, Poland has achieved much. “We have clear evidence that EU enlargement has stimulated economic growth,” she said. “Over five years the economies of new member states have grown at an average of 5.5 percent, or 2 percentage points more than in 2004. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia grew the fastest after joining the EU.” Negative stereotypes of Poles have changed a lot over the past five years, according to Hübner. “Poles are perceived as educated, ambitious people and good employees,” she said. “Stereotypes are difficult to change, and we have managed to do this over a short time, by showing what Poland really is like.”

Hübner noted that Poland and Slovakia are the only EU states whose economies are still growing despite the international financial crisis.

Forum participants also mentioned other benefits from EU integration, such as the common energy policy. They also stressed the advantages of a common European currency.

Marek Sawicki, minister for rural development and agriculture, spoke about the benefits of EU entry for Polish farmers, big farms in particular. “The Polish agrifood industry is among the world’s most advanced,” he said. “Our products sell well in Europe. The sector has strengthened after Poland joined the EU.”

Participants also discussed Poland’s preparations for the Euro 2012 European soccer championships. Sports minister Mirosław Drzewiecki insisted that there are no major delays in projects related to the championships.

“At present, 80.5 percent of tasks are under way according to plan, and some of them are ahead of schedule. However, risks are apparent in 19.5 percent of tasks. These are mainly road infrastructure projects.”

Drzewiecki said he believes that the international economic crisis may positively impact projects related to Euro 2012 since negotiations with contractors are easier now and better prices can be secured. “We have to do everything to ensure that these championships are the best in history and that Poles are proud of this project. This is absolutely possible,” he said.
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