7th European Economic Congress is over

Three days of discussions of the 7th European Economic Congress have been ended. Over 110 thematic sessions gathered business representatives from Europe, Africa and Asia in the International Convention Center in Katowice between 20th and 22nd of April.

The event was attended by several hundred panellists, EU commissioners, prime ministers, representatives of European governments, CEOs of the largest companies, academics, practitioners and decision makers who have a real impact on social and economic life. The leading topic of this year’s edition of the EEC was the innovative Europe.

„If entrepreneurs in Europe are not taking risks, it only means that the conditions are not optimal. We will have to reduce the barriers that hinder innovation in the member state” – said Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

The Commissioner was one of the guests of the session entitled „Innovative Europe: Time to Take Specific Actions”, during which the guests considered ways of stimulating innovation in the economy, deliberating on whether there are any universal standards for cooperation between state, business and science in this respect. A lot of space was also devoted to the problems of European innovation and the dilemmas of the Central European states, in which simple reserves driving economic growth are about to end, and more involvement in innovation will clearly be greatly needed.

The other main topics of the congress were the EU investment plan, issues relating to energy, industry, climate, the role of the state in the economy and challenges of the global economy as well as the Poland and EU relations with countries of Africa and Asia.

Here are the most interesting statements of the 7th European Economic Congress:

Nikosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission – „Thousands of specialists from African countries have trained in Central Europe and today they have a distinct input in the development of our continent. In recent decades Africa has undergone considerable changes. We are successfully dealing with the choking debt and introducing reforms that support the economy. In the last ten years, Africa has become the second fastest developing region in the world. We are the continent of the future because of our young population and the growing middle class.”

Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kiev, and Leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) – „For Ukraine, Poland has been and still is an example to follow, as far as introducing reforms is concerned, which is why we want to copy your experiences now. In the 1960s, Ukraine was even more industrially developed than Poland, but today when one drives from Kiev to Germany, it is enough to cross the border with Poland to see that your country’s infrastructure is similar to your western neighbours’ and that the standards are similar; not to mention Poland’s economy, which is four times as strong as ours. This is an excellent example for us to follow. After all, there are similarities in our mentality and our past and Poland itself is Ukraine’s largest economic partner in Eastern Europe.”

Mankeur Ndiaye, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, Senegal – „There is no doubt that Africa is becoming increasingly attractive to Poland and to Central and Eastern Europe. People think of Africa today the same way they thought of China 30 years ago and India 20 years ago. This is because Africa is slowly becoming the centre of the global economy. (…) Africa needs not only European goods but direct investments. The reforms conducted in the last few years in African countries, excellent demographics and extensive natural resources should make Central and Eastern European countries venture out more daringly into the continent. (…) African countries are getting much better at solving their own crises and problems, and stand firmly against the solutions imposed on them from the outside.”

Jan Kulczyk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Kulczyk Investments and founder of the CEED Institute – „The worst thing is that out of the ten largest Polish companies as far as their turnover is concerned, seven still belong to the state. You can hardly operate properly if a competitor of a private company is a state-owned enterprise. It’s more than unfair, as they operate based on different criteria and with different objectives in mind. (…) For a private entrepreneur, it is not only profit that is a future goal but also long-term development, even reaching a few generations ahead, whereas in state enterprises, just as in politics, what matters is the term of office, with the development perspective reduced to four years. (…) Poland would be able to move forward much more effectively if the state’s role was only reduced to the sphere of regulation. Yet, it is much more often the case that it is the state that crosses the barrier into the economic spheres, without being competent to do so. President Reagan once said that one of the most dangerous sentences in the English language, and one that business people truly fear, is ‘Hello, I represent the state and I am here to help’. (…) We have to find our place not only in Poland and in Europe but globally, which is why business needs support from the state, fighting for its presence at the global markets. Today 500 million people live in Europe, which is 7% of the global figure. But Africa, with its 1 billion people, will soon have a population of 2 billionn. Poland has not the time for discussion about what to do. We have to find our place in the world.”