The future of Europe in the eyes of the participants of the 27th Krynica Economic Forum

A record number of participants and accredited journalists, more than 200 thematic panels and special events, heads of state, top members of governments and parliaments, CEOs of the largest companies, local government officials, experts and scientists. The 27th Krynica Economic Forum, 5-7 September 2017, was attended by nearly 4,000 guests from Europe, Asia and the US, and covered by over 650 journalists. The leitmotif of this year’s Krynica Economic Forum was “Project: Europe. What recipe for the next decades?”

European integration must be maintained for the sake of building a strong position of Europe and ensuring the competitiveness of its economy when compared to other mighty countries in the world. However the integration process cannot be divided into various stages because the founding fathers of the European Community perceived the EU as a Union of equal countries – this is the conclusion that the guests of the inaugural plenary session of the Forum: the Presidents of Poland, Macedonia and Georgia arrived at.

“We, the Poles, are the citizens of a state that for many years aspired to join the European Union. Our attempts were successful and a vast majority of Poles consider our membership in the EU as a great value,” stated the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, during the inaugural session. According to him despite the numerous critical moments the European Union is now working effectively to deal with the existing problems. The President of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, said that the EU fails such countries as his, especially when it operates slowly and sluggishly. “We appeal to the European countries, not only the EU member states, to stick together and to face up to the challenges together in the 21st century.” said Ivanov. “EU’s success is its model of state’s management, the fundamental rights, economic freedom and security,” stressed the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili. To his mind, maintaining the European perspective for the countries neighboring with EU is the key to the union’s continued success that will allow it to efficiently deal with the most crucial challenges. “The European Union should remain open for new members,” summed up Andrzej Duda. The President of Poland enumerated the key challenges for the countries that are in the midst of integrating with Europe whose representatives were present at the session, mentioning such problems as civilizational backwardness resulting from the communist rule in the Eastern Europe. “A genuine failure of the European Union will be its division into an EU of multiple speeds, which may lead to it falling apart,” claimed Andrzej Duda.

During the 27th Krynica Economic Forum many important economic and social declarations were made. Prime Minister Beata Szydło declared that in the nearest future her government may suggest to appoint a council of advisors at the government that would consist of entrepreneurs. Prime Minister stressed she would be glad to see practitioners on board. On the other hand, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development and Finance, Mateusz Morawiecki, announced the plans of his ministry regarding special economic zones. “We want to make the whole Poland an investment zone,” stressed Deputy Prime Minister. The President of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, Tomasz Pisula, said that till the end of the year PAIH intends to open 20 trade offices abroad. The Minister of Energy, Krzysztof Tchórzewski, announced that if a decision regarding the construction of a nuclear plant was made this year, the first block would become fully operational probably around 2029 or 2030 and the cost of the whole power plant would be about PLN 75 billion. “In 2022, Poland’s gas supplies will come from other sources than now,” said the government’s plenipotentiary for strategic energy infrastructure, Piotr Naimski, in Krynica. The minister added that in 2022, thanks to the LNG terminal and the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline we will be able to import 16-18 billion cubic meters of gas a year, which will cover all the Poland’s demands. “We can then completely resign from the Russian gas. Our present agreement on gas supplies with Russia expires exactly in 2022,” said Piotr Woźniak, President of PGNiG. The development of the gas hub in Świnoujście may finish by 2021 and the regasification capabilities of the terminal are to increase by 50% from the current 5 to 7.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year – informed the President of Gaz-System, Tomasz Stępień in Krynica. The Minister of Family, Labor and Social Policy, Elżbieta Rafalska, informed during the forum that the unemployment rate in Poland amounts to 7.1% and is on the lowest level since March 1991. According to Radosław Domagalski-Łabędzki, President of KGHM Polska Miedź SA, the state has to provide instruments, financing and developmental programs if foreign expansion is to be successful. On the other hand, Filip Grzegorczyk, President of Tauron Polska Energia SA, confirmed that “small and medium-sized enterprises are the future and that they are worth investing in as some of them will become genuine champions.” During the 27th Economic Forum in Krynica an agreement was signed, based on which the European Investment Bank will grant Poland credits amounting to almost a billion euro for strategic energy and scientific-research investment.

The first day of the 27th Krynica Economic Forum was traditionally crowned by the Festive Award Gala. Prime Minister Beata Szydło was chosen as the “Man of the Year” whereas the Program Council of the Economic Forum presented the award of the “Company of the Year” to Alior Bank SA. The award was collected by Michał Jan Chyczewski, acting President of the Management Board. A special award of the 27th Economic Forum in Krynica went to the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, whilst the New Culture of the New Europe went to Svetlana Alexievich, an outstanding Belarussian writer and journalist.

The participants of the Krynica discussions included VIPs representing the political and economic circles of the European countries and the USA, i.a.: Andriy Parubiy, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Rokas Masiulis, Minister of Transport and Communication of Lithuania, Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Minister of Energy of Lithuania, Aurelijus Veryga, Minister of Health of Lithuania, Ellen Trane Norby, Minister of Health in Denmark. Other participants of the European Forum in Krynica included Viktor Yushchenko, former President of Ukraine, Traian Băsescu, former President of Romania, Stjepan Mesić, former President of Croatia, and also former EU commissioners: Ferdinando Nelli Feroci (Italy), Franz Fischler (Austria) and Andris Piebalgs (Latvia). The Forum sessions were also attended by Timo S. Koster, Director, Defense Policy and Capabilities at the NATO Headquarters, Steven Maijoor, Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), Arup Banerji, Regional Director for the EU countries, Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank, Vazil Hudak, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, János Latorcai, Deputy Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, Gordana Čomić, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Serbia, Fiona O’Loughlin, MP, Chair of the Commission for Education and Capabilities of Ireland, and Charles Clarke, former Minister of the Interior of UK. Other participants of the meetings in Krynica included scientists, writers and columnists, among others Saul Singer, economist and writer, author of the book entitled “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” (Israel), Jaś Gawroński, well-known journalist and writer (Italy), Boris Reitschuster, public affairs journalist (Germany) and Andrey Illarionov, political scientist (Russia).

The hottest economic topis were discussed in Krynica by representatives of the largest Polish and foreign companies, among others: Zbigniew Jagiełło, President of PKO Bank Polski S.A., Michał Krupiński, President of Bank Pekao S.A., Mirosław Kowalik, President of ENEA S.A., Igor Wasilewski, President of PERN S.A., Piotr Dziwok, President of Shell Polska Sp. z o.o., Dariusz Blocher, President of the Management Board of BUDIMEX, Marcin Jastrzębski, President of Grupa Lotos S.A., Henryk Baranowski, President of PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna S.A., Steven Harman, Vice President for Operational Affairs at Amazon in Europe Wojciech Nagel, President of the Council of The Warsaw Stock Exchange Company (Giełda Papierów Wartościowych w Warszawie S.A.), Radosław Domagalski-Łabędzki, President of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., Filip Grzegorczyk, President of Tauron Polska Energia S.A., Filip Thon, member of the Executive Committee Retail innogy SE, Anna Pawlak–Kuliga, President of Ikea Retail, Robert Bednarski, Director for Central and Eastern Europe at Facebook, Jason Titus, VP Engineering, Google (USA) and Jorgen Bang–Jensen, President of the Management Board at PLAY (Denmark).

In 2017, for the second time, Polonia Forum took place in Krynica organized by the Senate of the Republic of Poland and the Economic Forum. The aim of Polonia Forum is engaging the Poles living far away from their homeland in important events in our country. The event also serves as an opportunity to debate the issues relevant to Polish communities and Poles living abroad. “We strive to build the future of Poland taking into account the interest of Polish communities abroad,” said Speaker of the Senate Stanisław Karczewski during Polonia Forum. He added that Polish communities abroad have a huge potential for Poland that cannot be wasted.

An important integral part of the 27th Krynica Economic Forum was the International Conference “Europe of the Carpathians” initiated by Speaker of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland Marek Kuchciński. This event serves as a forum for discussion and setting the directions of collaboration among the Carpathian countries, talks about the future of the European Union, security on the border of the EU and NATO or about the development of regions. “We must strengthen the importance of our region in the European policy and strengthen the sovereignty of our countries so as to ensure that their interests are not played under at the international forum,” said the Speaker of the Sejm during the conference.

Another accompanying event was the Healthcare Forum, which has provided an opportunity to exchange experience and present new ideas related to healthcare management for more than 7 years now. The event also shows how important healthcare is in the public debate. “There is too much free market in healthcare, which doesn’t serve well the patients or the healthcare system,” said the Minister of Health Konstanty Radziwiłł during the plenary session of the Healthcare Forum in Krynica.

The participants of the Forum of Regions, which is an integral part of the Krynica Economic Forum in Krynica, spoke about the importance of local governments as well as the promulgated changes in the electoral law, education and health care. “The most important thing for all of us, and especially for local agents, is to guarantee the autonomy of local government in our country,” said Jacek Krupa, Marshal of the Małopolska Region, during the Forum.

During the 27th Krynica Economic Forum, “Economic Local Government 2017” awards were presented. It was the first edition of the ranking prepared by experts from the Economic Center of Nicolaus Copernicus. Moreover, a report entitled “The Healthcare Sector in Poland in 2016” was published during the Forum in Krynica.

The organizer of the Krynica Economic Forum is the Institute for Eastern Studies, its main partner is Małopolska Region and the host town – Krynica Zdrój.