Today, 31st of May 2010, the Second European Economic Congress began in Katowice. The largest business conference under the patronage of José Manuel Barroso was opened by such luminaries as Marshall of the Sejm, Acting President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski, President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, and President of Poland in 1990-1995 Lech Wałęsa. Also, the following spoke: Minister and Member of the Council of Ministers Michał Boni, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Janusz Lewandowski, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Waldemar Pawlak, Minister of Finance Jacek Rostowski.
Marshal Bronisław Komorowski: Katowice is a good place to speak about things essential for economy. The congress is an important event with a freshness value. I am convinced that it will be held successfully in the years to come. We would like Poland to be the best place for investments in Europe. I have just visited former Katowice Steelworks (presently ArcelorMittal Poland, an editorial note). It is a place where you can see new technologies introduced, and where you can see that building is accompanied with the view of business and employees and the region as well. (…) it must be very comforting that until recently Poland was the only “green island” in the time of the crisis. In the first quarter of 2010, Poland exceeded a 3% economic growth. Thus, it is better than expected. Compared to the first quarter of 2009, in the first quarter 2010 export grew by 24%. The credit goes not only to the present government, but also to those who were once courageous enough to change and to modernize Poland. This is also a bonus for bold reforms of the 1990s. Today, Poland stands out positively from other countries. The only thing is how to make use of this situation. Modernization and development are challenges ahead of Poland, just like the privatization of economy. In addition, we need actions related with the public finance reform; we need to increase the flow of academic achievements to business. It is important to build work ethics too. The actions taken by the government will be crucial. And all the institutions of Poland may support or weaken the government’s determination in the future.
Jerzy Buzek: The reason for postponing the Congress date was significant and possibly one of the most serious ones. We are able to organize ourselves as a country and this is appreciated. The way Poland went through the recent hard moments is exemplary. Institutions work; procedures operate. People’s opinion depends also on the category of wealth. And the wealth comes from economy. We are still experiencing the crisis; some countries are short of resources. We need reforms all the more. Our flight ahead will be important. We need to have proper supervision over the financial market and the possibility to assess risk; but also we need to have reliable statistics. It will be necessary to unblock the regions of Europe which have enormous potential for development. The new EU members are considered to become its drive forward. They are greedy for success. The Polish Presidency for which we have to properly prepare will be essential. Also, the EU budget set for the next years will be important. And the European energy community and the flow of funds and knowledge will be important. For Poland, the Eastern partnership and collaboration in the Baltic Sean area will be crucial.
Lech Wałęsa: The way I was able to forecast in politics, Jan Kulczyk was able to forecast in business all the more. I think we in this generation should do more and do it differently. What we are doing now is that we continue to race. This was a good idea but years ago. Back then, we believed in God and were afraid of our neighbours. Now we questioned God and we are not afraid of our neighbours any more. Just consider new solutions; think whether besides racing we need new ideas to develop. Now, it would be good to back not the best as they will manage. Now we need to back programmes directed at the average and at the weak. The reason is to give equal opportunities in Europe. Frequently, we can hear that we need to build a better future on certain values. But when we look closer, we will see that everyone has different values now. A united Europe has to take into account the location of a country; it has to support it.
Waldemar Pawlak: It is a great honour to speak here, where the heart of the Poland’s economy is beating. Also here, in Silesia, there is industry which determines whether we are safe in terms of energy. The message of the Polish Presidency in EU will be the Eastern partnership. The potential which is formed by nine new EU member states needs to be used properly. If Poland is to become a strong representative of the region, this will strengthen its position. Now, the focus should be on transparency and clarity and not on controlling. Competitiveness and development of economy will benefit when transparency on the market is cared for. Moreover, it is important to have proper regulations and to award those who stimulate economy.
Janusz Lewandowski: The term “crisis” comes from Greek. It is not by accident maybe. In the 1990s, this was an Old Continent but full of optimism. Today, Europe is not like that. The European Union was built for a good weather. And today it must learn how to manage in the crisis. The crisis produces protectionist and egoistic responses. Currently, we need to eliminate defects which were exposed by the crisis. We have the action to rescue Greece in place. In the future, we will need preventive actions. It might be not well-received as it will include such programmes as the inspection into the finance of individual states. Our generation, the generation of the Solidarity movement, should work for a good scenario for Europe.
Johannes Hahn: We need to again discuss the situation in which Europe has found itself in the time of the crisis. We need to think how Europe will look in the future against other players such as India, China or Russia. We need to talk about methods of how to step onto the path of growth and not to focus on the stability aspect only. The Polish economy looks very good compared to economies of other EU member states. This is also because Poland is the largest beneficiary of structural funds. However, there are areas where we have to intensify our actions, for example infrastructural investments.
On the first congress day, the discussions involved the economic order, the consequences of the financial crisis in Europe and around the world, and energy policy and the climate package.
Almost 30 speakers took part in the today’s two thematic panels of the congress. The first session moderated by Roman Młodkowski (TVN CNBC) involved a comprehensive debate on the consequences of the financial crisis in Europe and around the world, and the universality of the new order and how to enforce it. The new economic order in Europe was discussed by President of the Economic Council at the Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki; Chief Executive for Europe, Senior Vice President and Executive Officer, Hitachi Stephen Gomersall; Chief Executive for Europe, ING Group Cesar Gonzalez-Bueno; Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Kulczyk Investments Jan Kulczyk; and Executive Vice-President, Fortum Oyj Per Langer.
A dominant issue of the second thematic block was the climate and energy package. The participants discussed the problems of fighting the climate changes in the aspect of their impact on the competitiveness of economy. The attendees included Minister of Environment Andrzej Kraszewski and Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Treasury Mikołaj Budzanowski as well as representatives of the largest corporations in the power sector such as ENEA, Grupa Lotos, PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, PKN Orlen, RWE Polska and Tauron Polska Energia. In addition, the dedicated multimedia speeches of EU Commissioner for Climate Connie Hedegaard and EU Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger were presented.
At the end of the day, Crystal Brussels Sprouts, the awards of the National Contact Point of the EU Research Programmes, were granted in the Concert Hall of the Academy of Music.
What is more, the first day of the congress brought a debate on the health care system. The key problems of inpatient services in the Silesia Province, and the issues of financing the services and the access to therapy in selected medical areas were challenged by such personas as directors of the majority of Silesian hospitals.
A panel on industrial parks and the prospects for their development was held in the Euro-Centrum Scientific and Technological Park. One of the numerous participants was the Economic and Commercial Counsellor in the Belgian Embassy, Maxime Woitrin.
The Monday sessions of the European Economic Congress 2010 in Katowice were held in the Concert Hall of the Academy of Music, in the Biuro Centrum buildings and in the Scientific and Technological Park of Euro-Centrum.
More about the European Economic Congress 2010 and a detailed congress agenda on www.eec2010.eu