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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » June 30, 2011
Politics & Society
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Poland’s Priorities for EU Presidency
June 30, 2011   
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Poland’s first turn at the rotating presidency of the EU lasts from July 1 to the end of December 2011.The Polish government approved its agenda for the presidency of the EU Council on March 15. Efforts will focus on three key priorities: European integration as a driver of economic growth, European security, and the benefits of an open Europe.

The Polish government believes that strengthening the EU’s economic growth should take place through the development of the internal market (including the e-market), through using EU budget funds to build a competitive Europe, and also by opening up new markets for the EU, for example through trade negotiations with countries such as Canada and India.

The internal market can be deepened during the Polish presidency thanks to measures such as a package of amendments to EU directives—the Single Market Act—prepared by the European Commission.

Poland understands security for Europe to mean, among other things, ensuring energy security, working to consolidate defense policies, ensuring the stability of borders and internal security, and even food security, a goal that should be served by changes to the Common Agricultural Policy.

An open and safe Europe is a Europe that has good relations with neighboring countries, both to the east and to the south. In the light of recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries in that region, the Polish presidency will support efforts to work out a new strategy for the EU’s relations with the Arab world, a strategy aiming to encourage democratization and modernization in the region.

Another important goal for the Polish presidency is strengthening the Eastern Partnership. EU enlargement will also be a key issue: Croatia is expected to join the bloc during the Polish presidency.

The priorities adopted by the Polish government on March 15 expand the approach it adopted on July 21, 2010. At the time, the main themes of the Polish presidency were expected to be: the EU’s long-term spending plan for 2014-2020, the bloc’s relations with the East, the internal market, strengthening the EU’s external energy policy, a common security and defense policy and utilizing Europe’s intellectual capital.

Negotiations on the EU budget for 2014-2020 will be key in determining how successful Poland is in handling the EU presidency. Poland’s period at the helm will be a time of in-depth analysis of the European Commission’s proposals and of identifying the main issues for negotiation. Budget talks are expected to last until the second half of 2012.

In a period where the effects of the global economic crisis are still being keenly felt, the Polish presidency will aim to strengthen the EU’s internal market, which has unused potential for growth. Developing the EU’s internal market involves continued work on achieving a free movement of goods, people, services and capital. Poland will also concentrate on starting a debate on further liberalizing services on the internal market, regulations for the financial sector and eliminating trade barriers.

Poland wants an in-depth discussion on new legislative and non-legislative measures to ensure the competitiveness of the European energy sector. Poland’s position is that—based on the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty—the EU needs to develop mechanisms for implementing an external energy policy based on solidarity and competitive edge.

Together with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Polish presidency will strive to improve the EU’s effectiveness in crisis management, to intensify cooperation on defense issues among member states while ensuring partnership with NATO.

Intelligent, sustainable economic growth conducive to social inclusion will only be possible through the full utilization of the socioeconomic potential to be found in individual EU member countries, Poland believes. To this end, it wants to initiate a discussion in the EU on intellectual capital.

Another important part of the Polish agenda will be initiatives with a strong social flavor: the European Year of Volunteering, the European Culture Congress and issues related to disabled people.
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