Poland marks decade of European Union membership
May 2, 2014
Anniversary illumination on the façade of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw
Public celebrations were held throughout Poland on Thursday as the country marked ten years since joining the European Union on 1 May 2004.
President Bronislaw Komorowski and his two predecessors Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski took part in the European Picnic in Warsaw's Royal Lazienki park. The three presidents planted an Oak of Freedom to commemorate Poland's first partly free elections held 25 years ago, on June 4, 1989.
In his address to the participants of the picnic President Komorowski said: "It is evident, and not just from the Polish viewpoint but from the viewpoint of the entire region, that there is and will be no secure, interesting and promising alternative to the European integration”.
Talking about the anniversary on the Polish radio Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said: We are the lucky generation as we managed to achieve something that our fathers and grandfathers could only dream of. We are in NATO, we are free, we are EU member, we spend a lot of money on modernization of Poland, we have an increasingly more important role to play in EU. Our position is strong and results from economic development and potential”.
"We fought for it and we achieved it by determination in reforming the state and winning not the hearts, but the minds of the Western world (arguing that) if something like that had happened, that is the dissolution of the Soviet Union, freedom in our part of Europe should not be blocked but utilized," Komorowski said earlier during a debate with young people.
On the occasion Polish dailies tried to sum up the decade of Poland's membership in the EU.
Rzeczpospolita daily describes ten spheres of life in which greatest changes have taken place in the last ten years. Those areas include road infrastructure, tourist movement and better living conditions.
The daily Puls Biznesu writes that Poland has received PLN 1.4 trillion net from the EU in the last ten years of its membership in the form of trade, investment, subsidies and transfers. The largest amount of the total, some EUR 871 billion was brought to Poland by exporters. Since 2004 Poland has received inflow of EUR 1158 billion non-speculative capital and outflow of EUR 821.7 billion.
Moreover, Poland's foreign ministry calculated that the country's EU membership speeds up its GDP growth by 0.7 pps annually, which means that for the last ten years the Polish economy generated additional PLN 640 billion GDP. According to the ministry, had Poland stayed outside of the EU, its unemployment rate by EU standards would hit 14.2% in 2013 and not 10.3%. The average wage would amount to PLN 3,501 gross and not PLN 3,614.
Ten years after Poland's accession to the EU as many as 89% of Poles support the country's membership in the community, according to a CBOS survey cited by the daily Gazeta Wyborcza.
The balance of gains and losses of Poland's presence in the EU is positive according to 62% of the surveyed, as compared to only 39% when the same question was asked ten years ago.
The percentage of people who thought the balance was negative has shrunk from 38% at the beginning of 2004 to 13% presently.
Anniversary illumination on the façade of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.