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The Warsaw Voice » Business » August 29, 2013
Business & Economy
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Decision-Makers Head to Krynica
August 29, 2013   
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The annual Economic Forum in the southern Polish mountain resort of Krynica, being held for the 23rd time this year, will bring together top politicians and business leaders from Central and Eastern Europe.

Organized by the Eastern Institute, the Economic Forum has a well-established reputation as one of the most important events of its kind in the region. Every year at the beginning of September, the forum organizers invite decision-makers and all those who want to talk about the future to discuss ways of building a secure Europe based on solidarity, and to contribute their experience to help the European economy become the most competitive in the world.

The forum is an important platform for debate about Central and Eastern Europe, evidenced by the presence in Krynica in recent years of the presidents and prime ministers of all countries in the region and of top European Union politicians, including Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.

In the 1990s, forum participants discussed political and economic transformation in the region and a common path to the European Union and NATO. After 2004, debates focused on the position of Central Europe in the EU and further enlargement. In 2012, Ivo Josipović, president of Croatia, which was preparing to join the EU at the time, said that meetings like the one in Krynica provided an important discussion platform for national and EU leaders at a time of crisis. In past years, Krynica has also hosted important ministerial-level and bilateral meetings, for example a summit of the justice ministers of the Visegrad Group countries and a summit of the economy ministers of Eastern Partnership countries.

It is particularly important for the organizers that the forum in Krynica is attracting growing interest among European financial institutions, the managers of the largest corporations, and small and medium businesses.

Businesspeople from the region recognize the forum as a valuable opportunity to establish new contacts and to talk freely with politicians and officials representing regulatory authorities about key problems and administrative barriers.

Last year, a report by the CASE Center for Social and Economic Research in conjunction with PKN Orlen on the impact that shale gas extraction is expected to have on the Polish economy aroused lively discussion. The report concluded that the results of the shale gas revolution may be comparable to the results of Poland’s entry into the European Union. An important development at last year’s conference was the confirmation of a decision that the PGE energy group would build Poland’s first nuclear power plant in conjunction with major Polish companies Enea, KGHM and Tauron. The heads of these companies signed a letter of intent at the forum to build the power plant.

The speeches, comments and reports by the most important participants in the forum, as well as investment plans and reports presented by companies, are discussed extensively by experts and cited by international media. Apart from the plenary session, which opens the debates, an important event on the first day of every forum is the presentation of the Europe 500 list of the largest companies in Central and Eastern Europe. The league table is compiled by professional services firm Deloitte. Economic reports presented by other professional services companies like PwC, KPMG and Ernst&Young also attract much interest.

This year, the title of the forum is Towards a New Deal, a reference to the economic, social and political changes caused by the international economic crisis.

The current crisis is not the first to affect several continents and to threaten global financial stability. But traditional stabilization measures taken by respected international institutions are not enough these days. We are witnessing a fundamental change in thinking about the economy, economic theory, society and democracy. Globally, there are two scenarios of change. Either international economic ties and economic cooperation will grow stronger, or there will be currency wars and battles for capital flows. It is not yet clear which of these scenarios is more probable, but what is becoming clear is that many rules of the global order, which seemed unquestionable before the crisis, have already been redefined. A new economic and political architecture has already started to take shape, but its outlines will become properly visible at the end of the decade. During three days of debate, participants in the Krynica conference will be seeking answers to fundamental questions: how to ensure economic growth, how to combat unemployment, especially among young people, and how to strengthen European Union institutions.

Also important will be topics vital for Central and Eastern Europe: entry into the eurozone, catching up with “old” EU countries in terms of economic development, signing an association agreement with Eastern Partnership countries, working out a new model of cooperation between the EU and Russia and China, and finding sources of funding for key infrastructure projects. A particularly interesting topic this year will be the juxtaposition of the Baltic states’ position on adopting the euro with the position of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, which are very cautious about entering the eurozone.

The heads of European stock exchanges, central and commercial banks, members of supervisory authorities and officials representing global institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, will take part in debates on financial markets, the role of banks in the economy, the functioning of the Banking Union and the emerging single banking supervision system.

A debate on the role of capital markets in the economy of Central and Eastern Europe is also expected to be interesting. It will be attended by Lucian Anghel, head of the Bucharest Stock Exchange, Zsolt Katona, CEO of the Budapest Stock Exchange, Petr Koblic, CEO of the Prague Stock Exchange, and Ivan Takev, CEO of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.

The Economic Forum in Krynica will be accompanied by the 7th Forum of Regions and the 5th Investment Forum in Tarnów, devoted to the chemical, financial and real estate sectors.
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