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The Warsaw Voice » Business » August 1, 2013
Business & Economy
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Krynica Readies for Economic Forum
August 1, 2013   
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Zygmunt Berdychowski, chairman of the policy-setting Program Council of the annual Economic Forum in Krynica, talks to Andrzej Ratajczyk.

The Economic Forum in the southern Polish resort of Krynica, held every September by the Institute for Eastern Studies foundation, is one of the most important political and business events in Poland. It regularly attracts hundreds of politicians, economists, businessmen, academics and media professionals from across Europe. What is the main topic of this year’s conference?
The leading theme of this year’s forum is “Towards a New Deal.” The aim is to encourage debate about the need for a new international order. The global economic crisis has triggered fundamental changes in how people look at economic theories and the economy itself as well as at society and democracy. We therefore need to ask ourselves what prospects there are for a new deal in Europe with regards to both politics and the economy.

The enlargement of the European Union in 2004 seems to have brought tremendous benefits to member states, old and new ones alike. The “old” EU got an injection of cheap labor that made the prosperous times last a little longer. The new members, in turn, gained a powerful development boost, especially when it comes to improvements in infrastructure. But, when defined like that, the benefits of EU enlargement seem to be over now, hence the question as to what the new deal in Europe should be like so that it benefits all EU member states and that the EU can continue to develop. Imperfect as the EU might be, I believe there is no viable alternative to it—in the same way as there is no alternative to democracy.

What kind of questions will conference participants be seeking to answer when it comes to the main challenges facing Europe?
In terms of politics, it is legitimate to ask how the EU should keep consolidating, if at all. As far as the economy is concerned, things worth considering are new European institutions, such as a single banking supervision authority, to protect the EU against crises such as those in Greece and Portugal. We need to learn our lessons from what has happened and seek solutions to ensure that the banking system is more stable. Otherwise, further development will hardly be possible. Economic Forum debates on financial markets, the rules of the Banking Union, the emerging single banking supervision authority and the role banks should play in the economy will be attended by those managing European stock exchanges, central bank governors and heads of commercial banks as well as officials from market supervision authorities and global institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

What other topics will be discussed this year?
Spanning three days, this year’s Economic Forum will comprise 150 panel discussions, plenary sessions and special events dealing with macroeconomics, international politics, the energy sector, innovation and healthcare. Many participants are sure to be interested in the hot topic that is cyberspace security. Other interesting panel discussions will focus on the media and relations between the central and local government.

How many guests are you expecting this year?
The number of participants is expected to be more or less the same as last year when 2,500 people attended. We do not aspire to have as many guests as possible, but to make sure they are interesting and prominent figures who make an increasingly important contribution to the debate on European and global problems. Like last year, around 60 countries will be represented at this year’s forum and we expect more guests from Asian countries including China, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

What are the accompanying events this year?
One of the integral parts of the Economic Forum will be the Regions Forum, during which local government leaders and regional officials from Central and Eastern Europe can exchange views. This year’s Regions Forum will be held for the seventh time.

The agenda also includes the 5th Investment Forum in Tarnów, which will focus on the chemical, financial and real estate sectors. Moreover, as in previous years, Economic Forum guests will be offered with a wide choice of cultural events and trips to the Nowy S±cz and Małopolska regions. These and other attractions are intended to ensure an interesting time for the guests so they want to come to Krynica again.

For four years, the accompanying events have included the Running Festival. How popular is it?
The three-day Running Festival is the only such all-round and varied running event in Poland. Contestants can choose from over a dozen runs on routes totaling over 200 kilometers, from a mini marathon for children to a 100-kilometer ultra-marathon on tourist trails in the Beskid S±decki Mountains. Around 1,000 people took part in our first Running Festival, almost 3,000 in the second and there were over 4,000 runners last year. We believe up to 8,000 could take part this year. No other running event in Poland has been growing so fast. The Running Festival also gives a major promotional boost to Krynica.
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