Poland entered the EU on the 1st May 2004. This is why we were participating in the previous budget only partially, so we are using the EU funds for 2004 or 2006. The 2008 was the last year of this shorter budget for us and I must say that this is a real success for Poland. By now, we have taken advantage of almost the whole amount of funds assigned for our country. Of course, there is a question of efficiency and you said that we would have to give some money back to the Commission. We don’t know whether in the coming years the audit procedures will not reveal any mistakes, however we have been using the money quite well so far. Now, starting from 2007-13, this is the first long budget for us and we are the country to get the highest amount of money in EU 67 billion EUR for this 7-year -period. We can compare Poland to Spain, but not to e.g. Ireland, because of differences in scale and within the administrative division. Spanish regions are however much more autonomous than ours.
There are 16 self-governed regions in Poland. This division was created in 1999 and these regions have had much experience in using EU money. Another change applied in the last decade was the exclusion of an administrative body dealing with regional economy from the Ministry of Economy, by creating the Ministry of Regional Development. It is responsible for supporting the development of the country with use of EU funds, however also by domestic financial means.
Poland has been through a fundamental transformation during the last 20 years. Our companies have been modernised, cut costs and focused the production on the goods with better prospects. The industry plays a relatively important role in our economy. This is one of the reasons why it is not vulnerable to crisis to a high extent. Let’s take the automotive sector, for instance. It comes to such paradoxes that you have to wait about 2 months to buy the new Fiat 500 in Poland. It shows the profits of economic transformation.
There is the MIFID directive implemented in the EU countires. It’s about honesty and transparency in doing business. It tells us thatthe banks should offer the companies financial instruments which are accurate for their economical situation. What the banks have done in Poland, was against this directive. The options were asymmetrical, the risks at the side of banks was limited. In my opinion, the public institutions should upholdthe European law and prevent such situations. I regret that the two biggest parties in Poland were so much in fight with each other that the MIFID directive has not been implemented to the Polish legal system yet.
The banks in Poland have earned more than in other countries of our region last year. Our banking sector hasn’t experienced such a strong disturbance, which lead to such interventions as in the USA or Germany. The stability of law and honesty in business lies in the own interest of banks, as well as ofcompanies. If Poland had an oppinion of a country, where it comes to dangerous financial operations, which threaten the companies, then who would like invest here? The banks can operate, if there are companies creating the demand for capital. That is why they shouldn’t make operations bringing a potential threat for the companies.
here is an anegdote connected with the crisis in England in the early nineties. In that time there was a popular saying that in the segment of men clothing the crisis was chequered, whereas in the branch of women clothes the situation was blooming. It tells us to try to look at the economy in a more complex way, than the one presented by statistics. There is practically no crisis in Poland as far as for instance the automotive industry is concerned. The plants are running at full strength. We need a much a more delicate analysis of the current economic situation. I think that Poland can be one of the first countries to take advantage of the end of the crisis.
Poland is nowadays in a very good situation. We have very good economic data, we observe a quite high economic growth, around 5%. The inflation is low. What is more, we manage to keep the budget deficit on a low level. The economic indicators are very good and the role of the Polish money, of our money, will be growing through the next years . In the previous programming period, we had some problems with collecting this 25 % of the money that has to be combined with the 75% of EU funds. Now I think the role of the Polish money will be growing and the number of the projects will increase because of the co-financing, although it’s eligible to get 85 % now. So the Ministry was responsible during last years for negotiating with the Commission and preparing the programs and now it is the managing authority for the EU funds. We are, in this European slang, responsible for the whole program: for using the money, for effeciency, everything. It is a very hard task, because we are a kind of an “umbrella Ministry” and different Ministries are implementing institutions. Besides, we have managing institutions on the regional level for the first time, so we have 5 national programs managed by my Ministry and 16 regional program versions for the first time. In the previous program we had only one operation program for the whole country.
At first sight it is very visible and easy, but when you go into detail, it’s much more difficult. But the first priority was, of course, infrastructure. When you look at the scale of Poland, compared to e.g Spain, you can see that the roads, railways, airports are the most important issue. But we also put much emphasis on education, innovation, IT and we are committed to dedicating 60% of the money for the Lisbon Strategy, i.e. for the activities dedicated to SMEs, to entrepreneurship and IT innovation research and technology this kind of activities. There are two ways of using the money: innovation, very generally speaking and infrastructure.
The same division, but on a lower level, applies for the region, so regions in their own operation programs also dedicated 60% for the Lisbon Strategy. From the national programs there is money dedicated to bigger companies and on the regional level to SMEs and micro companies. And the infrastructure, from the national point of view highways and, on the regional level local roads. What is more, the environmental issues, so the sewage system for example. There is a program called Infrastructure and Environment, which is responsible for these issues. We have allocated an amount of 28 billion EUR in this program. Sometimes it may seem too “heavy” since there are a few divisions: transport, environment, but also much smaller part dedicated to culture, health and research and technology. These are infrastructure measures.
It’s a huge market with 40 million consumers and quite a good infrastructure. Of course, we still have a lot to do, comparing to Spain, for instance, but we are using the European money to a very large extent. What is more, our labor force is well prepared. We have really very good schools, the education in Poland is on a high European level. We have a very efficient labor force, a very specialized one.
In Silesia we have highly qualified technical employees and people who graduated from the technical universities. Besides, investors should come because of this economic data we were discussing. Poland is now one of the most rapidly growing economies in Europe and it’s a fact. For the time being, we are one of the best, most stable economies in the European Union.