6th anniversary of Poland’s EU membership and approaching EU presidency

Since April 2010, the pub­lic debate and media cov­er­age in Poland were to a great extent dom­i­nat­ed by the issues relat­ed to the crash of the President’s plane near Smolen­sk, the dis­cus­sions over the Katyn mass-killings dur­ing World War II and mutu­al rela­tions with Rus­sia. Con­se­quent­ly, the pre-term pres­i­den­tial elec­tions dom­i­nat­ed in media cov­er­age and polit­i­cal dis­course after 20 April 2010. Addi­tion­al­ly, May 2010 saw the prob­lem of flood­ing and, there­fore, media and polit­i­cal debates have been pre­dom­i­nant­ly pre­oc­cu­pied with the domes­tic top­ics men­tioned above.

Nev­er­the­less, one of the EU-relat­ed top­ics present in media and polit­i­cal dis­course was the 6th anniver­sary of Poland’s mem­ber­ship in the EU. Most of the major pub­lic and pri­vate news­pa­pers and TV sta­tions pub­lished inter­views with experts and politi­cians, com­men­taries and organ­ised debates sum­ming up the six years of Poland’s mem­ber­ship in the EU. The Min­istry of For­eign Affairs pub­lished on this occa­sion the doc­u­ment sum­maris­ing the main con­clu­sions from six years of mem­ber­ship.11Eko­nom­iczno-społeczne efek­ty członkost­wa Pol­s­ki w Unii Europe­jskiej. Główne wnios­ki w związku z 6‑tą rocznicą przys­tąpi­enia Pol­s­ki do UE [Socio-eco­nom­ic effects of Poland’s Mem­ber­ship in the EU. Major con­clu­sions relat­ed to the 6th anniver­sary of mem­ber­ship], avail­able at: www.polskawue.gov.pl (last access: 7 May 2010). The doc­u­ment sum­maris­es the impact of mem­ber­ship on Poland’s eco­nom­ic growth, presents the bal­ance of finan­cial flows and util­i­sa­tion of cohe­sion poli­cies resources. Lat­er on, the doc­u­ment analy­ses the impact on Pol­ish agri­cul­ture, trade exchange, and for­eign direct invest­ment, as well as the effects of mem­ber­ship on the labour mar­ket and migra­tion. Final­ly, the doc­u­ment sum­maris­es the opin­ions of the Pol­ish pub­lic on mem­ber­ship and the gen­er­al­ly pos­i­tive impact of membership.

The 6th anniver­sary was com­mem­o­rat­ed by major polit­i­cal forces in Poland. The gov­ern­ing Civic Plat­form (Plat­for­ma Oby­wa­tel­s­ka – PO) pub­lished a sum­ma­ry of pub­lic opin­ion sur­veys sug­gest­ing a gen­er­al­ly pos­i­tive atti­tude towards Poland’s mem­ber­ship. The rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the par­ty in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment stressed as the main achieve­ments the improve­ment of liv­ing con­di­tions; invest­ment in infra­struc­ture improv­ing the qual­i­ty of life, not only in large agglom­er­a­tions but also in “region­al” Poland;22Inter­view of 30 April 2010 with Danu­ta Hueb­n­er, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010). the change of atti­tudes towards Poland and Poles in Europe and the grad­ual short­en­ing of dis­tance towards the 2004 new­com­ers;33Ibid. See also inter­view of 4 May 2010 with Jacek Saryusz-Wol­s­ki, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010). and progress by Pol­ish author­i­ties in “social­is­ing” in EU insti­tu­tions, which trans­lates into bet­ter under­stand­ing of mech­a­nisms gov­ern­ing the EU and learn­ing how to pro­tect nation­al inter­est in the EU so that “it would not divide but unite”.44Inter­view of 30 April 2010 with Danu­ta Hueb­n­er, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010). The Civic Plat­form can­di­date in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions stressed the impor­tance of sup­port (also in the form of direct pay­ments for farm­ers) from the EU as “oppor­tu­ni­ties used by rur­al areas and the whole coun­try”.55Bro­nis­law Komorows­ki dur­ing the meet­ing with farm­ers dur­ing annu­al Pil­grim­age of farm­ers to Lichen Sanc­tu­ary. Ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010). Sim­i­lar voic­es could be heard on the side of the main oppo­si­tion par­ty Law and Jus­tice, whose Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Pawel Kow­al stressed that Poles have learned how to pro­tect nation­al inter­est in the EU sys­tem, while Poland has been seen more prag­mat­i­cal­ly as an impor­tant polit­i­cal part­ner in Europe. The most typ­i­cal under­stand­ing of Poland’s stance in the EU is – in his view – see­ing Poland as a strong sup­port­er of ener­gy secu­ri­ty and east­ern pol­i­cy.66Inter­view of 30 April 2010 with Pawel Kow­al, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).

The major media name among Poland’s achieve­ments the cur­rent eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion of Poland, the util­i­sa­tion of struc­tur­al funds and invest­ments,77E.g. RMF24 radio sta­tion on 1 May 2010, avail­able at: www.rmf24.pl (last access: 28 July 2010); TVP Info, avail­able at: www.tvp.info (last access: 28 July 2010). the suc­cess of the East­ern Part­ner­ship (EaP) and its influ­ence on EU-Rus­sia rela­tions.88RMF24 radio sta­tion, 1 May 2010, avail­able at: www.rmf24.pl (last access: 28 July 2010). By join­ing the EU, the Poles enjoy trav­el­ling with­out bor­der con­trol and the Union’s fund­ing, while threats of buy­ing out Pol­ish land did not proved true.99TVP Info avail­able at: www.tvp.info (last access: 28 July 2010). Gaze­ta Wybor­cza dai­ly quotes among the major suc­cess sto­ries of Poland’s mem­ber­ship: infra­struc­ture invest­ments from EU funds (roads, bridges, co-financ­ing of invest­ment for enter­pris­es, direct pay­ments for farm­ers), the open­ing of mar­kets for Pol­ish goods and ser­vices, the open­ing of the labour mar­ket that con­tributed to dimin­ish­ing unem­ploy­ment rates domes­ti­cal­ly and addi­tion­al mon­ey trans­fers to Poland’s econ­o­my.1010Gaze­ta Wybrocza dai­ly, 29 April 2010, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).

The Pub­lic Opin­ion Research Cen­ter pub­lished the results of the sur­vey before the 6th anniver­sary of entry into the EU. In the first half of April 2010, the num­ber of sup­port­ers for Poland’s mem­ber­ship amount­ed to 86 per­cent of respon­dents, 9 per­cent of the respon­dents declare they are against mem­ber­ship, while 5 per­cent declare them­selves as “unde­cid­ed”.1111Pub­lic Opin­ion Research Cen­ter sur­vey, quot­ed after: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).

Poland’s presidency priorities

Dur­ing the Con­fer­ence “The Pol­ish Pres­i­den­cy of the Euro­pean Union” organ­ised by War­saw Uni­ver­si­ty on 10 May 2010, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Walde­mar Pawlak out­lined the issues that will prob­a­bly be among Poland’s pres­i­den­cy pri­or­i­ties. Accord­ing to the Min­is­ter, the devel­op­ment of the EaP will be the nat­ur­al con­se­quence of the role played by Poland in the region. The eco­nom­ic pri­or­i­ties should include – accord­ing to the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter – ener­gy secu­ri­ty, trade issues and com­pet­i­tive­ness.1212Avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010). The experts in EU affairs inter­viewed on this occa­sion stressed that the coun­try hold­ing the pres­i­den­cy should main­ly play the role of medi­a­tor between the mem­ber states and the Union’s insti­tu­tions with­out press­ing too much for its own pri­or­i­ties, while being ready to offer “inno­v­a­tive think­ing” in propos­ing alter­na­tive solu­tions when need­ed1313Rafal Trza­skows­ki, MEP, quot­ed by www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010). and that it would be good if Poland – dur­ing its pres­i­den­cy – ini­ti­at­ed the debate over the Euro­pean Union’s future in order to avoid pos­si­ble over­stretch­ing of the Union’s pro­ce­dures.1414Pro­fes­sor Dar­iusz Mil­czarek of War­saw Uni­ver­si­ty quot­ed by www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Eko­nom­iczno-społeczne efek­ty członkost­wa Pol­s­ki w Unii Europe­jskiej. Główne wnios­ki w związku z 6‑tą rocznicą przys­tąpi­enia Pol­s­ki do UE [Socio-eco­nom­ic effects of Poland’s Mem­ber­ship in the EU. Major con­clu­sions relat­ed to the 6th anniver­sary of mem­ber­ship], avail­able at: www.polskawue.gov.pl (last access: 7 May 2010).
  • 2Inter­view of 30 April 2010 with Danu­ta Hueb­n­er, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 3Ibid. See also inter­view of 4 May 2010 with Jacek Saryusz-Wol­s­ki, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 4Inter­view of 30 April 2010 with Danu­ta Hueb­n­er, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 5Bro­nis­law Komorows­ki dur­ing the meet­ing with farm­ers dur­ing annu­al Pil­grim­age of farm­ers to Lichen Sanc­tu­ary. Ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 6Inter­view of 30 April 2010 with Pawel Kow­al, MEP, ser­vice of Pol­ish Press Agency on Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 7E.g. RMF24 radio sta­tion on 1 May 2010, avail­able at: www.rmf24.pl (last access: 28 July 2010); TVP Info, avail­able at: www.tvp.info (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 8RMF24 radio sta­tion, 1 May 2010, avail­able at: www.rmf24.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 9TVP Info avail­able at: www.tvp.info (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 10Gaze­ta Wybrocza dai­ly, 29 April 2010, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 11Pub­lic Opin­ion Research Cen­ter sur­vey, quot­ed after: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 12Avail­able at: www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 13Rafal Trza­skows­ki, MEP, quot­ed by www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 14Pro­fes­sor Dar­iusz Mil­czarek of War­saw Uni­ver­si­ty quot­ed by www.europarlament.pap.pl (last access: 28 July 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.