Katowice at the centre of the debate on the future of the economy in Poland, Europe, and the world – the 9th European Economic Congress has started

Katowice, 10 May 2017 “We are not afraid of large public investments; our ambition is not just to catch up with the West, but to overtake it”, declared Mateusz Morawiecki, Minister of Development and Finance, during a panel session held on the first day of the European Economic Congress (EEC) in Katowice. The 9th edition of the largest business event in Central Europe again is serving as a platform for inspiring encounters and multilateral dialogue on a continental scale.

Mikuláš Dzurinda, President of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, Slovak Prime Minister 1998-2006, Jan Fischer, Czech Prime Minister 2009-2010, Andrius Kubilius, Lithuanian Prime Minister 1999-2000 and 2008-2012, Konrad Szymański, Secretary of State for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, former President of the European Parliament and former Prime Minister of Poland, honorary President of the Patronage Board of the Congress, were all present at the opening ceremony of the European Economic Congress (EEC) in Katowice, and its first panel session, entitled “A different Europe in a different world”.

The opening was also attended by representatives of regional authorities: Wojciech Saługa, Marshal of the Silesian Voivodeship, Jarosław Wieczorek, Voivode of Silesia, and Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice.

In his opening address, Wojciech Kuśpik, the initiator of the EEC, and President of the PTWP SA Group, outlined the chief themes of the congress, and underscored that it was meant as a platform for bringing together a broad range of milieux, entrepreneurs, and politicians. “Dialogue makes profound sense”, he propounded.

Wojciech Saługa, Marshal of the Silesian Voivodeship, identified two principal issues which are feeding the current debate in the region: the problem of smog and the construction of a metropolitan district. He also praised the residents of the region for their reliability, cooperative skills, and trustworthiness, which, he emphasised, are the exact qualities which matter in business.

A speech delivered by Mateusz Morawiecki, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development and Finance, opened a panel devoted to investment in unstable times:

“The last 6-9 months have seemed to spell a good year ahead in terms of GDP, and the prospects for the future are equally bright, which should encourage investment. This is not the view of the Ministry of Development and Finance, but of the financial and analytical institutions which prepare the forecasts of economic growth for Poland”, he commented, and added that never before in the post-transformation period had we witnessed such a fast fall in unemployment rates as today.

Jarosław Gowin, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Science and Higher Education, delivered an opening address at a panel entitled “Humans in the centre – economy, market, labour” and launched a debate on the education system, cooperation between business and science, and the Polish and European labour market.

“We have been building bridges between science and the economy and several solid spans are already in place. One of the most important is the Innovation Bill, which will create a new model of mutual relations between universities and the labour market. The Bill will grant significant tax reliefs to entrepreneurs who get involved in research and development in order to develop innovative products, and provides for a whole range of additional incentives for scientists to cooperate with business. Another major element is the Bill on implementation doctorates recently signed by the President, which allows scholars to obtain an academic degree not only on the basis of a theoretical dissertation, but also on the basis of practical economic applications. In addition, another recent Innovation Bill has established even more tax incentives for those who choose to bank on innovation. Tax reliefs will reach very high levels, and each Polish zloty invested in research and development will be tax deductible; for R&D institutes, the tax relief will amount to 150%”, the Minister announced.

Statements from the participants in the opening ceremony of the 9th European Economic Congress

 

Mikuláš Dzurinda, President of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, Slovak Prime Minister 1998-2006:

“In order to catch up with the western part of the continent, Central and Eastern Europe needs to cooperate more closely. We have to be more united and take a more conscious part in EU affairs, and that involves not only reaping membership benefits, but also taking on our share of burdens and duties. We cannot allow a situation in which some EU Member States are fully aware of their responsibilities, while others act as free-loaders and only look out for their own benefit. If we are not able to take on our share of duties, we stand little chance of resolving increasingly pressing issues. A closer degree of cooperation is particularly called for in terms of foreign policy, security, and defence”.

Jan Fischer, Czech Prime Minister 2009-2010

“Without a ‘crystal ball’, it is impossible to predict the economic repercussions of Brexit. Opinions are divided. Some think nothing will change, others prophesy an all-out catastrophe; I prefer to take the middle ground. It is also important to bear in mind that Brexit will affect more than the economy, since it is a strictly geopolitical decision. Who knows, maybe it might even lead to unexpected synergies, and, paradoxically, open up new avenues for Europe. Many British companies have lost their appetite for investment and adopted a strategy of caution. If similar decisions are taken, it will be impossible to maintain a fully integrated single market. The key word here is responsibility, and it needs to be taken, not only by European politicians, but also other citizens. The only thing worse than the EU is its absence”.

Andrius Kubilius, Lithuanian Prime Minister 1999-2000 and 2008-2012:

“I believe that we should be part of an integrated Europe. Until now, the continent has always emerged from its crises more united than before. For Lithuania, Europe means not only a single market, but also the foundation of political security. What we need most is safety, stability, and predictability. This applies to all of Europe, not just our region, and is now being reflected, for instance, in the refugee issue. In the long term, our security will largely depend on the ability of the European Union to act as a strong global player”.

Konrad Szymański, Secretary of State for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“The division of Europe will not solve its problems; instead, it is likely to engender new challenges. Regardless of its internal tensions and misunderstandings, the EU provides an essential context for building welfare and development. Any calls to divide it threaten the stability of a common market which encompasses 500 million citizens. This is an enormous resource. Indeed, Europe cannot be sure of its future, it is riven by divisions and a crisis of trust, but we should not undermine the integrity of the common market. This is why the Polish Government takes a really dim view of theories that favour the division of Europe. We will strive to persuade and campaign for any future EU reforms to be based on the premise that the single market should be preserved. The EU needs to show that it can resolve its issues. We should also make it clear that a sense of responsibility is born out of a sense of impact. Consensus stems from a sense of ownership; people simply need to feel involved”.

Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, former President of the European Parliament and former Prime Minister of Poland, honorary President of the Patronage Board of the Congress:

“The European Economic Congress has always asked difficult and controversial questions and has managed to come up with important answers which later on influenced decision-making in Europe. We have responded to challenges, but also looked for opportunities. The European Union is at a crossroads today. Let’s face it. The problems of Greece and its recurrent crises and upheavals might have affected us to an extent but they have seemed rather remote. Today, we need to come to terms with Brexit and deal with Russian policy. Problems which have their roots in the past have not been solved and new challenges are on the rise. The Congress will need to address a number of difficult issues which are affecting the economy and business activity”.

The chief themes of the European Economic Congress 2017 in Katowice include energy, industry, climate, the healthcare market, cybersecurity, global expansion, and start-ups. Over the three days of the largest business event in Central Europe, 132 debates will be held, as well as a number of accompanying events.

On 11-12 May, the Spodek Arena will host the European Start-up days, a meeting of the Polish start-up sector, with the participation of visionaries, precursors of innovative solutions, and representatives of various industries. The purpose of the event is to bring together young entrepreneurs and experts, CEOs of large companies, investors, and successful business people. More than 2.5 thousand guests have confirmed their attendance.

In addition to panels devoted to various branches of the economy and industry, the 9th European Economic Congress will also feature debates about the development of cities and regions, social issues, the healthcare system, trade, and the labour market. Accompanying events will include award ceremonies, informal meetings, presentations, professional workshops, and concerts.

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The European Economic Congress (EEC) in Katowice is a three-day cycle of debates, meetings and accompanying events, with the attendance of over 8 thousand guests from Poland, Europe, and the world at large. Almost 100 sessions are attended every year by several hundred panellists, including EU commissioners, Prime Ministers and representatives of European governments, the CEOs of the largest companies, scientists and practitioners, and decision-makers who impact on economic and social life in real terms. Among opinion leaders, in the form of open public debate, discussions are held on issues which are crucial to Europe's development.

The European Economic Congress has been recognised as a forum for the most-representative discussions on Europe’s future. The theses from presentations by the most-important participants are often quoted and widely commented on.

The European Economic Congress has been organised by the PTWP SA Group since the first edition in 2009.

For more information on the European Economic Congress www.eecpoland.eu

For more on the organiser – PTWP SA Group – www.ptwp.pl

 

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