EEC: Summary of all three days of debates

The issues tackled during the three days of the European Economic Congress – EEC (13-15 May 2013), were filled with almost a hundred topical sessions and many accompanying events, include some of the most important matters relating to the Polish, European and global economies. The debates, taking place in eleven locations in Katowice – the capital of Upper Silesia – provided an opportunity for dialogue for over 6000 participants and the presentation of the juxtaposed visions of European politicians and representatives of business and academic circles. Here is the summary of all three days of EEC 2013.

>>> Photos of the inaugural session <<<

First day, 13th of May

Discussion on the future of the European Economy and Eurozone, opportunities for cooperation between the EU states and Africa, and energy policy – these were the themes that dominated the first day of the European Economic Congress. It is for the fifth time that this largest economic event of Central Europe, held in Katowice, has gathered representatives of the political, business, academic and economic elites.

“The requirement of a thoughtful dialogue between politics and society, employers and employees is crucial from the point of view of building the authority of the state, the credibility of the national and business brand, and also of our openness” – emphasised Janusz Piechociński, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy of the Republic of Poland, at the opening session of the European Economic Congress.

Also other ministers of the extended Visegrad Group countries (V4) spoke during the inauguration ceremony: Martin Kuba, Minister of Industry and Commerce of the Czech Republic, Tomáš Malatinský, Minister of the Economy of the Republic of Slovakia, Mihaly Varga, Hungarian Minister of National Economy and Varujan Vosganian, Romania’s Minister of the Economy. In their speeches they approached the issues of the future of the European economy, cooperation and cohesion and the role of Central Europe in the European Union.

“Europe is facing many challenges. There is a need to achieve a balance between regulations, for example in the sphere of environmental protection, so that the issue of competitiveness is not forgotten (…). This needs to be combined with the issues relating to research and innovation. The key term for Europe is still ’competitiveness’. It is important to increase the competitiveness of the European economy. It is important to create a common industrial policy with other countries. Some of our sectors can become increasingly strong in the international markets. We have to look for new markets in Africa and in South-East Asia. It will be like opening a window and letting the fresh air in” – argued Varujan Vosganian, Romania’s Minister of the Economy.

The discussion, which was heard also by the representatives of the Silesian Province’s local authorities, was facilitated by Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the European Parliament in 2009-2012, Poland’s Prime Minister 1997-2001.

The first topical debate of the Congress was entitled Go global! The World, Europe, Africa. Time for a New Deal. The debate was chaired by Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of the Republic of Poland in 1995-2005. The prospects for changes in the economic map of the world and the common future of Africa and Europe were discussed by El Hadji Malick Gakou, Minister of Trade, Industry and the Non-formal Sector of Senegal in 2012-2013, Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union, James L. Jones, retired United States Marine Corps General, former United States National Security Advisor in 2009-2010, Chief Commander of NATO in 2003-2006, Horst Köhler, President of Germany in 2004-2009, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund 2000-2004, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1998-2000, Jan Kulczyk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Kulczyk Investments, Founder of the CEED Institute and Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development.

“We need a broader perspective. We should diversify economically. This does not mean that we shall give up cooperation within the European structures, but that we have to change our approach and leave stereotypical perceptions of Africa behind” – said Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of the Republic of Poland in 1995-2005.

“Africa is a continent with a huge potential for growth. The question is how to convince our investors to get involved in Africa. We can see that the political stability in Africa has been growing. We have reduced the dangers in Mali and problems in Somalia. The situation is getting better” – was the assessment of Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development.

The themes discussed at this session were also continued at the Africa – Central Europe Economic Cooperation Forum, inaugurated on the first day of the Congress, with the participation of ministers of Central European states and representatives of African governments and business circles. Another session of the first day of the European Economic Congress was devoted to the future of the Eurozone. The discussion, facilitated by Roman Młodkowski, Editor-in-Chief of TVN CNBC, was attended by Mikołaj Dowgielewicz, Vice-Governor of the Council of Europe Development Bank, Ivan Mikloš, Member of the National Council of the Republic of the Slovak Republic, Deputy Prime Minister, and also Slovakia’s Minister of Finance 2010-2012, Matti Vanhanen, Prime Minister of Finland 2003-2010, Managing Director the Finnish Family Firms Association and Maciej Witucki, President of Orange Polska. The session was attended virtually, in a video speech format, by Janusz Lewandowski, EU Commissioner for Budget and Financial Programming.

“The current crisis in climate and energy policy does not mean the end of it. It will be redefined, made more realistic, more business friendly but also cheaper. It would be worth it if Poland’s presence was felt more clearly at this moment of change” – said Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Minister of the Environment, during the afternoon session focused around issues in European energy policy.

The discussion, which included such topics as the assumptions of the common EU energy policy, and key investments and determining factors for industry, was also attended by Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the European Parliament 2009-2012, Poland’s Prime Minister 1997-2001, Pavel Cyrani, Member of the Management Board of the ČEZ Group, Surojit Ghosh, Vice-President and Member of the Management Board of ArcelorMittal Poland, CFO of FCE Business Division East, Country Manager, Krzysztof Kilian, President of the Management Board at PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, Mikael Lemström, President of the Management Board at Fortum Power and Heat Poland, Dariusz Lubera, President of the Management Board, Tauron Polska Energia, Dariusz Mioduski, CEO at Kulczyk Investments, Paweł Olechnowicz, President of the Management Board, CEO of the LOTOS Group and Filip Thon, President of the Management Board RWE Polska, Member of the Management Board RWE East.

“The climate and energy policy adopted in 2009 needs to be thoroughly discussed. In principle, its priorities have not changed, but how we see them today is important. Perhaps its main objectives have to be redefined, in order to ensure energy safety at minimum cost to the economy, maximise its macro-economic advantages and, of course, reduce the impact of power engineering on the natural environment” – commented Krzysztof Kilian, President of the Management Board at PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna.

“We think that it is not in the best interests of the European economy to have higher objectives for reducing emissions than those adopted at present” – said Surojit Ghosh, Vice-President and Member of the Management Board of ArcelorMittal Poland, CFO of FCE Business Division East, Country Manager.

The first day of EEC 2013 was also marked by a discussion on the opportunities for cooperation between business and culture, which took place at the sessions Sustainable investments – Culture pays! and Is it possible to count on culture? Another event that took place on the same day of this largest business event of Central Europe was the Nationwide Meeting of Health Managers, as did other sessions devoted to medication management and to sources of financing investments into medical facilities.

The panel discussions of the first day of the European Economic Forum 2013 took place in the Krystyna Bochenek Katowice Cultural Centre, the Silesian Voivodeship Office, the Korez Theatre and Novotel Katowice Centrum.

Second day, 14th of May

The second day of the largest economic event in Central Europe was dominated by the Africa-Central Europe Economic Cooperation Forum and a number of specialist debates regarding, among other things, energy, transport, and metallurgy. The participants of the European Economic Congress – EEC also discussed current challenges in banking, management and enterprise restructuring.

Hundreds of speakers took part in over 50 panel discussions. Among the participants were Baidy Agne, President of Senegal’s National Council of Employers, Milan Hovorka, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Matiya Kasaija, State Minister for Planning from Uganda’s Ministry of Finance and Planning, Jerzy Osiatyński, Advisor to the President of the Republic of Poland, Waldemar Pawlak, Member of the Polish Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy 2007-2012, Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Gao Xiqing, President of China Investment Corporation, and representatives of the management of some of the largest Polish and international companies, such as the LOTOS Group, KGHM Polska Miedź SA, WBK, PKP Cargo, LOT Polish Airlines, Siemens and ArcelorMittal Poland.

The second day of the European Economic Congress 2013 began with the session Euro – the system under pressure, which was attended by Ivan Mikloš, Member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance of the Slovak Republic 2010-2012, Indrek Neivelt, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Bank of Saint Petersburg, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Ldiamon, former President of the Estonian Development Fund, Jerzy Osiatyński, Advisor to the President of the Republic of Poland and Matti Vanhanen, Prime Minister of Finland 2003-2010, Managing Director of the Finnish Family Firms Association. The participants focused on such issues as the necessity for introducing reforms in the monetary union and increasing the EU budget.

“It was assumed that growth in the Eurozone countries will be high, yet it is the countries that are outside of the union that have developed better. Poland could enter the Eurozone if we find an answer to the question of what we can do to make sure that we do not share the fate of Spain or Greece once we join the common currency?” – emphasized Jerzy Osiatyński, Advisor to the President of the Republic of Poland.

The European Union – China Economic Cooperation Forum, which took place within the Congress for the second time, provided an occasion to consider the opportunities created by the growing economic role of China and also the prospects for economic cooperation between China and Poland.

“We are pleased that the turnover of trade exchange between Poland and China grew last year, but it was mostly larger exports from China to Poland, with export to China growing by very little. The first issue to be considered is how to reach a trade balance (…) Polish-Chinese relations are marked by a certain syndrome of politics always preceding economy. The political relations and distribution channels we have built are very good, for example we have appointed an inter-ministerial team to coordinate efforts for the development of strategic partnerships. It seems, however, that business does not take any notice of this, which means that perhaps our communication with business circles is poor” – said Olgierd Dziekoński, Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the President of Poland.

The second day of the Congress was also a continuation of Africa-Central Europe Economic Cooperation Forum. The discussions focusing on the issues relating to the economic potential of Africa were attended by delegates from Senegal, Uganda, Angola, Tanzania and Zambia.

“In the past, Europeans used to condescend to us, yet our experiences with Central Europe are different and we approach them with more trust. We know that in Central Europe, Africa is treated as an equal partner” – said Wylbur Simuusa, Zambia’s Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.

“Africa is no longer in need of aid, it needs partnership. It is important that we understand the aspirations that Africans have today. They do not expect a teacher-pupil relationship, but a true partnership” – said John Godson, Member of the Polish Parliament.

At the panel discussions devoted to transport, speakers considered changes to EU transport policy, prospects for the development of investments in aviation transport, and the latest trends in municipal transport. Urban themes were also discussed at the debates devoted to the real estate market, attended by Jerzy Adamski, Director of the Institute of Urban Development, Jarosław Bator, Managing Director for Real Estate, a proxy of the PKP Management Board, Agata Brzezińska, Country Manager Neinver Polska and Hadley Dean, Managing Partner for Eastern Europe at Colliers International and others. The panels dedicated to local governments, such as Metropolises as centers of growth, Municipal investments and healing local government finances gave grounds for intensive discussions on current challenges faced by regional governments.

The second day of the Congress also hosted the discussion panel The “Polish Investments” Programme – a stimulant to economic growth.

“Polskie Inwestycje Rozwojowe (Polish Development Investments, PIR) and the “Polish Investments” Programme are a change of the privatization paradigm. This is the first instance of shares being sold by the State Treasury in order to implement strategic investments rather than for current expenditure (…). We are at a rather advanced stage of creating a company and have to do this as fast as we can. I already have plans for team for the company in my head. I think that in the third quarter of this year we will begin to prepare and evaluate projects. At the same time, we will be preparing an investment policy for PIR (…). We already have 30-40 projects applying for the financing held for us by the State Treasury. We have meetings with the potential investors to gain a preliminary insight into the projects. This should also help us in preparing the investment policy. We meet with the investors in which the state is still a principal shareholder, but also with private Polish and foreign investors” – explained Mariusz Grendowicz, President of Polskie Inwestycje Rozwojowe S.A. (Polish Development Investments)

“Polskie Inwestycje Rozwojowe (Polish Development Investments, PIR) is designed as a state investment bank, which will look for projects for itself; it will assess them, carry out their structuring and involve capital as well as corporate governance. We also hope that PIR will become partly privatized at some point, and will enter the stock exchange” – said Paweł Tamborski, Undersecretary of State at the State Treasury of the Republic of Poland.

The cycle of debates dedicated to energy included such discussion panels as Energy in Poland and in Germany. What connects us and what separates us? and The role of energy in a competitive Europe. The speakers also discussed dilemmas relating to shale gas, issues of energy efficiency, renewable sources of energy and nuclear power. Among the presenters there were such prominent figures as Maciej Bando, Vice-President of the Energy Regulatory Office, Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the European Parliament 2009- 2012, Poland’s Prime Minister 1997-2001, Piotr Kołodziej, President of the Management Board at Tauron Dystrybucja and Friedbert Pflüger, Executive Director of the European Centre of Energy and Resource Security.

“The full nuclear energy programme, including the results of social consultations, which defines the activities to be undertaken in this sphere for the next 10 years is in the last stages of preparation at the Ministry of Economy. We expect that it will be presented to the Council of Ministers at the turn of June and July” – declared Zbigniew Kubacki, Director of the Nuclear Energy Department, Ministry of Economy at the discussion panel Nuclear energy in Europe and in Poland.

“The European Commission held a questionnaire on shale gas. We asked about what sources of energy would be preferred by the citizens of Europe in a 30-year perspective. 70% of the respondents said that they count on renewable sources of energy and 9% on non-conventional sources of fuel, such as shale gas. In Poland, the answers were different: only 59% of respondents said that they counted on RSE and 32% that they see the share of other sources of energy as desirable, such as shale gas” – said Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for the Environment, at the panel discussion dedicated to shale gas.

“In no way should the standards for reducing the CO2 emissions be made more stringent relative to today’s norms” – said Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the European Parliament 2009- 2012, Poland’s Prime Minister 1997-2001 at the discussion panel on climate policy.

Among the accompanying events that took place at the second day of the European Economic Congress 2013 it is worth mentioning the award ceremony for the Top Inwestycje Komunalne 2013 (Top Municipal Investments 2013) competition, the presentation of awards by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development in the competition “Innowacyjny Projekt” (Innovative Project) and “Innowacyjna Instytucja Otoczenia Biznesu” (Innovative Institution of Business Environment), as well as the opening at Katowice’s Central Mining Institute of the Clean Coal Technologies Center – a research facility in which new processes and technologies in the area of ​​clean coal production will be developed in the future.

The discussion panels on the second day of EEC 2013 were held at the Hotel Monopol, Hotel Qubus, Helios Cinema, Sielsian Voivodeship Office, the Biuro Centrum building, Hotel Angelo, an auditorium of ING Bank Śląski, Hotel Novotel Katowice Centrum, Goldstein Palace and at the Central Mining Institute.

Third day, 15th of May

Economic prospects during the economic slowdown, issues overlapping politics and economy and investment opportunities in such sectors as the automotive industry, construction or heat engineering – these were the subjects discussed by participants on the last, third day of the European Economic Congress 2013 (EEC). The meeting of business, political and scientific elites, organized for the fifth time in Katowice, is now over.

The third day of the European Economic Congress 2013 began with a managerial debate, during which the panellists spoke about investment risk, obstacles to economic growth and methods to stimulate demand in the economic crisis. The discussion was led by Robert Gwiazdowski, President of the Adam Smith Center.

The cycle of debates devoted to investments covered discussions, for instance, on the image of Central Europe among external investors, Poland’s investment appeal and the development of the modern business service sector in our country.

“As a sector, we are a testing ground of where real value can be found in science. Where there is none … I leave the conclusions to be drawn by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education” – noted Paweł Poncyljusz, Member of the Management Board of Avio Polska, during a panel focusing on innovative economy.

The consecutive political debates Poland in Europe and Economy is the most important consideration, moderated by Kamil Durczok, editor-in-chief of Fakty TVN, and Roman Młodkowski, editor-in-chief of TVN CNBC, were attended by representatives of various political factions: Andrzej Celiński, Leader of the Democratic Party and Minister of Culture from 2001-2002, Leszek Miller, Member of the Polish Parliament, Leader of the Democratic Left Alliance and Poland’s Prime Minister from 2001-2004, Waldemar Pawlak, Member of the Polish Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy from 2007-2012, Jacek Protasiewicz, Vice President of the European Parliament, Beata Szydło, Member of the Polish Parliament, Łukasz Gibała, Member of the Polish Parliament and Przemysław Wipler, Member of the Polish Parliament.

“In Poland we have a problem with performing public orders based on the lowest price. Often it is not the lowest possible price but is extremely lower than the actual costs of the contract” – commented Adam Szejnfeld, Member of the Polish Parliament and Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy from 2007-2009, after the economic debate.

“Extended maternity leaves will serve children and parents well but will also make it easier for employers to look for substitutes for the women who leave for a year. This will develop the temporary employment market, which will create opportunities for the unemployed” – said Joanna Kluzik-Rostowska, Member of the Polish Parliament and Deputy Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Social Policy and Family Commission, who participated in the panel on the labour market.

The last day of the 5th European Economic Congress was dominated by thematic sessions devoted to various sectors of industry. Development prospects for the heating sector were outlined by Henryk Borczyk, President of the Management Board and General Director of Tauron Ciepło. Jerzy Widzyk, Plenipotentiary of the Management Board, Warbud’s Director for Public-Private Partnership and Member of the Council of the Centrum PPP Foundation, devoted his presentation to the financing issues of the construction sector.

“The construction industry is a cyclical business, and therefore, in developed countries, most of the construction companies have decided to diversify into other sectors” – stated Dariusz Blocher, President of the Management Board of Budimex, during a panel devoted to the construction industry, stressing that the last growth cycle in Poland’s construction industry resulted from an influx of EU funds, in particular for road construction.

The condition of the automotive industry was presented, among others,by Jakub Faryś, President of the Polish Automotive Industry Association, and Jerzy Majchrzak, Director of the Innovation and Industry Department within the Ministry of Economy.

“Cycles are characteristic for the automotive industry. Demand is like a sinusoid” – commented Andrzej Korpak, General Director of General Motors Manufacturing Poland.

“You have to adapt to the market size. This is the real world, the environment where we have to run our business. Crisis is a challenge but also an opportunity to organize production in a better way” – added Rafał Wyszomirski, Executive Director of Global Operations for Nexteer Automotive and President of the Management Board of Automotive Poland.

The third day of the Congress was an excellent conclusion to the discussions held during the two previous days. The subjects of investments in infrastructure as well as transport and regional developments were continued.

Funds from the European Union will continue to be the core funding sources of infrastructural investments in the new financial perspective for 2014-2020. However, the structure of application will be changed, and the financing principles will be modified – said the speakers during the session Investments in the transport infrastructure in Poland and their funding.

“We would like the European Commission to change the co-financing structure of railway projects from the current 75 percent to 85 percent” – stressed Deputy Minister of Transport, Andrzej Massel.

The subjects of energy discussed over the two previous days were also in focus. The issue of prospects in the energy market was expanded upon with the aspect of renewable energy sources by, among others, Paweł Przybylski, Director of the Wind Power Division at Siemens and Jerzy Pietrewicz, Secretary of State for Poland’s Ministry of Economy

“By 2020 Poland will stop units with a total power of 6,600 MW, and by 2028 almost 10 thousand MW will be stopped (..) By 2020 about 5-6 thousand MW of new generation power will be necessary (…) Now only three blocks are under construction: at the Kozienice Power Station, Stalowa Wola Power Station, and Włocławek Power Station, with a total power of about 2 thousand MW, which means that additional units with the power of about 3-4 thousand MW will be required” – informed Cezary Szwed, Director of the System Development Department of Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne (PSE), in the discussion Investments in the energy sector in Poland. He further added that in its forecasts, PSE has provided for renewable energy sources; however, since most of these are difficult to predict, only 10 per cent of the power generated from renewable sources is taken into account.

“By 2020 there is room for only 6 new units of about 900 MW each in Poland’s energy sector (…) However, the final power will be subject to the growth of power classified as “must run”, which are units operating irrespective of demand for power in the system. “Must run” units are renewable sources and co-generation installations, and production from those units has priority to enter the system due to the technologies applied” – said Kazimierz Rajczyk, Energy Sector Managing Director at ING Bank Śląski, during the same panel.

Major discussions concerning mining were also held on the third day of the Congress.

“The traditionally voiced priority for mining – and rightly so – is that coal should be extracted in the most effective way, thus being the cheapest possible. However, even very inexpensive coal without a buyer in the form of an effective energy generating industry poses doubts for the entire coal mining sector (…) Only if we have relatively inexpensive coal and energy is generated in an efficient manner, as it is done in some countries with the efficiency of 43-45%, do I think there is a future for coal” – said Joanna Strzelec-Łobodzińska, President of the Management Board of Kompania Węglowa, before the panel devoted to mining.

The discussion was focused, inter alia, on trends in world hard coal mining and on the future of this sector in Poland.

“The world is heading towards increasing coal mining, while the situation in the EU is different (…) I do not know any government documents supporting Polish coal. Support is provided to RES, to gas. The only fact is that our gas in industrial installations gets no support, while gas from the Russian pipe does. So the government does not want coal like some of our local governments. It looks like no one in Poland wants the coal. Therefore, there seem to be no prospects for the development of mining” – underlined Jarosław Zagórowski, President of the Management the Board of Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa, during the panel devoted to mining.

“I would encourage you to look at Poland’s mining from another perspective. Mining in Poland belongs to the state. However, the owner’s policy to mining is not clearly set. I would warn you against the notion of mines that are permanently non-profitable (…) With reference to mines, an economy should not be created only at the level of coal mining companies, but a profit and loss account should be developed on the macroeconomic level. The account should look at the costs of the potential liquidation of mines which are social costs” – emphasized Janusz Olszowski, President of the Mining Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

There were numerous panels where references were made to the prospects of economic collaboration with Africa and China, which was a major issue during the first two days of the Congress.

Panels focusing on sports: Football, business, economy and Sports and young people – the future of Polish economy? Much attention was devoted to diagnosing the situation of Polish football after Euro 2012. During the debates, the floor was taken, among others, by Bogusław Leśnodorski, Chairman of the Board of Legia Warszawa, Dariusz Smagorowicz, Chairman of the Board of Ruch Chorzów, Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament from 2009-2012 and Prime Minister from 1997-2001, Marian Kmita, Sports Director with TV Polsat and Marek Wleciałowski, Assistant Coach of Poland’s National Team.

The European Economic Congress was held between 13th and 15th of May 2013 in Katowice. It was organized by the PTWP SA Group. During the three days of the Congress, filled with almost a hundred thematic sessions and numerous accompanying events, discussions focused on subjects that are crucial to the economy of Poland, Europe and the world. This was the fifth edition of the most important business event in Central Europe.

text source: EEC’s press office