Euro Election Spending

April 9, 2014
Money, Money, Money

Money, Money, Money

According to Gazeta Wyborcza, during the first month of the campaign for the elections to the European parliament, Law and Justice (PiS) spent PLN 1.2m, Civic Platform (PO) spent PLN 0.5m and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) spent PLN 250,000 on their respective campaigns. Political parties which may have representation in all districts is allowed to spend a maximum of PLN 18m. Both PO and PiS wish to spend around PLN 10m. PO will give PLN 8m to local authorities which will be divided between candidates for individual campaigns. PiS candidates will receive much less: between PLN 2m and PLN 2.5 m. The euro-elections have not yet aroused the emotions of Polish people. The PiS YouTube video only garnered 19,000 views, whereas the PO video got 19,400.
wiadomosci.wp.pl

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Foreign Higher Education

March 24, 2014
Education Problem?

Education Problem?

Over the past ten years the number of students studying abroad has increased around the world to 4.5m. According to various forecasts, in 2020 this number will increase to 8m. The majority of universities in developed European countries have opened their doors for gifted young people around the world. For example, last year the number of foreigners studying at German universities increased significantly with 11.4% of all German students being foreigners, according to DAAD in Bonn. Waldemar Siwinski, President of the Perspektywy Education Foundation states that over the past few years the number of foreign students has also increased in Poland. However, in terms of the overall percentage of foreign students, Poland comes second from bottom (1.39%) when compared with the EU average (6.5%). “We will still have a lot to do to get 50,000 students by the end of 2015 and 100,000 by 2020. This is the real target that we can and must achieve,” adds Siwinski. In order to understand how to increase the number of foreign students in Poland we have to “coordinate the policies and cooperation of central government organisations, such as the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to create a programme to promote education in other countries. As for universities, they should try and attract students with better study programmes and they should also provide students with the choice of studying in foreign languages, especially in English,” says Włodzimierz Nykiel, Rector of the University of Łódź.
radioporusski.pl

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No Russian Gas Problems

March 15, 2014
Should Tusk Be Worried?

Should Tusk Be Worried?

Poland will be ready for Qatari gas by the end of this year. The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk discussed Polish gas plans during a meeting with gas industry officials in Gustorzyn near Włocławek, where there is a gas distribution point. PM Tusk highlighted the fact that the new gas centre in Świnoujście should be fully-functional by 2015. He hopes that the Polish Parliament will embrace new legislation as soon as possible, which will enable the speedy construction of gas pipelines. Tusk has also ensured everyone that there will be no problems with gas supplies from Russia, regardless of Russian aggression towards Ukraine. The Prime Minister stresses that even if gas does stop flowing through the gas pipelines in Ukraine, Poland is still safe. “We have had confirmation from our Russian partners about the safety of supplies, although the situation is constantly changing,” said Tusk. According to initial plans, the LNG terminal in Świnoujście would begin operations by mid-2014 with the first Qatargas gas supplies reaching Poland this year. The Polish Oil and Gas Company (PGNiG) has already declared that they will be renegotiating the contract with Qatar.
Gazeta Prawna

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Support for Ukrainians

March 9, 2014
Supporting Ukraine

Supporting Ukraine

Support is being given and money and medicine collected for Ukraine’s pro-EU supporters. Volunteers in Kiev are monitoring incidents of human rights violations and assisting those who have been injured. Ukrainians who live in Poland are asking for help to obtain refugee status. The Education for Democracy Foundation is collecting funds for Ukrainian protesters. The funds will be used to help those who were repressed and injured during the Maidan demonstrations. The account number where money can be donated is 18 1240 1037 1111 0010 4591 0813. Money can also be placed in the donation box at Warsaw’s Greek-Catholic Church on Miodowa street. Also, the charity organisation Caritas Polska has asked people to provide assistance for Ukraine. Alicja Wysocka, from the Caritas press office said, “Caritas is collecting money in order to buy medicine and food for the needy.” People who want to help those most in need in Ukraine can make payments to Caritas Polska, account number PL 77 1160 2202 0000 0000 3436 4384 and mark the payment ‘Ukraine’.
tvn24.pl

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Euro Adoption Not for Years

March 8, 2014
Euro Time?

Euro Time?

Poland’s willingness to adopt the Euro could be greater than ever before because of the Ukrainian crisis. However, this is not an economic argument. The discussion on adopting a common European currency as a way of reinforcing the economy has been fired up following the Russian invasion of Crimea and destabilisation in the region. “This is a very distant vision, which would take years. By the time it happens, the Ukrainian crisis will be well over,” believes Daniel Gros, director of the think tank Centre for European Policy Studies. According to Gros, short-term turbulences in sovereign currencies are normal on the backdrop of such crises, but they are of secondary importance for the economy. Fabian Zuleeg, European Policy Centre director also feels Euro adoption has psychological overtones.” Euro zone membership is of psychological importance. The citizens of a country feel even more integrated with the EU as well as the support of Germany, the EU’s largest state,” says an expert. In the event of a crisis, the country in question also has the support instruments of the euro zone and the relief fund that Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain currently benefit from. “The euro zone can help members manage such risks. But I do not see any risk at the moment,” claims an economist.
rp.pl

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Poland Discusses EU Budget

March 8, 2014
Budget Discussion

Budget Discussion

Poland has begun negotiations with the European Commission (EC) about the regulations concerning EU budget spending up until 2020. Poland is the largest transferee of EU funds and the first country to begin discussions with Brussels. Before Poland begins implementing any programmes it must have permission from the EC. “The conditions will be included in the so-called partnership agreement,” said Shirin Wheeler, spokeswomen of the Commission. She added that the document will assess the targets on which Poland would like to spend money as part of Europe 2020. “We will focus mainly on helping small- and medium-sized businesses, innovation, energy and transport,” said Wheeler. The negotiations will last until the summer. Poland will receive over €82 billion. Approximately €50 billion will be spent on larger national programmes. The rest will be allocated to regional programme managed by local governments.
Gazeta Prawna

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Petrol Threat for Poland

March 6, 2014
Running Out?

Running Out?

A possible Russian petroleum embargo, caused by the present conflict in Crimea, would have grave consequences for Poland. “It would lead to an increase in crude oil price which would effect petrol prices,” claims Andrzej Szczęśniak, specialist in the field of energy. Russia is one of the world’s major exporters of natural gas and petroleum. On the other hand, Poland imports the majority of its gas and petroleum from Russia. Szczęśniak told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) he is more worried about petroleum than gas imports, as 95% of it comes from Russia. Poland is on the front line, if any embargo is put on Russia as it would lead to a Russian embargo on Poland. Petrol prices would rise as Poland would be forced to buy crude oil on the international markets. What is more, Polish petroleum oil refineries have only ever processed Russian oil. The threat is very real, as the only political tool that could be used against Russia, to which Western countries would agree, are petroleum-related sanctions. The US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Russia with “very serious consequences.” The whole G8 group is considering the introduction of sanctions such as asset freezes, visa-related sanctions, and trade isolation. The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski said recently that unless the situation in Crimea calms down, the EU will consider introducing visa-related and financial sanctions on Russia. These declarations will make the petroleum embargo a very real issue for Poland and the Polish economy.
finanse.wp.pl

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Polish Ecological Farming in Danger

March 6, 2014
Still Organic?

Still Organic?

Government policy over the next few years may inhibit the development of Polish agriculture, which is still growing dynamically thanks to EU funds. It is estimated that more than 80% of Polish-brand organic food is exported, mainly to the countries of Western Europe and the United States. According to data of the Ministry of Agriculture, at the end of last year, a 10% increase in the number and amount of organic producers was observed in comparison to 2011. Experts from the Polish Senate, the upper chamber of the Polish Parliament, maintain there is a visible correlation between the sharp interest in organic farming and EU grants, for which farmers have been able to apply from 2004. However, Tadeusz Solarski, Vice President of Polish Cereal Producers claims that farmers are concerned by rumours that EU support for organic farming will soon be reduced. The anxiety of Polish eco-farmers has increased due to the government’s new agricultural policy. Budget contributions per 1 hectare will go unchanged, but will halve for subsidised areas. Moreover, the draft rural development programme for 2014-2020, prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, provides further restrictions (already partially introduced last year), which may deepen the slump in Polish agriculture. Both agricultural experts and Greenpeace believe that the number of organic farms in Poland will fall, which would be unique compared to all other countries across the globe.
biznes.interia.pl

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Ukraine Solution

March 5, 2014
Minister Concerned

Minister Concerned

The head of the Ministry of Interior Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz has been discussing the Ukrainian crisis. “What is happening in Ukraine right now is having a direct effect on Poland’s security,” according to the Minister of Interior. He also added, however, that there is no direct threat to Poland. The minister said, “There is no doubt we are facing a crisis that will shift the balance of power in the region”. He added, “For Polish people, this is one of the most pressing challenges of the last 25 years, since the restoration of Polish independence”. Suddenly, there is a threat of aggresion, a creeping invasion of a neighbouring country. “Nothing like this has ever happened before so close to the Polish border,” said the minister. At the same time, he reasserted the fact that the services coordinated by the Ministry of Interior, including the Border Guard, are well prepared and that the Polish border is stable. “We are in touch with Ukrainian forces on the other side of the border. We have not observed any increase in the number of refugees from Ukraine. At the moment, there are two scenarios to expect: Russian military intervention accompanied by the surrender of the international community or a declaration of war,” said Mr. Sienkiewicz. He also added that the trick is to find a solution which does not entail either of these scenarios, “as both of these options are unacceptable for both Poland and Europe,” he warned. According to Mr. Sienkiewicz, the most important factor will be the reaction of the US and important international organisations to the crisis. They would be able to set in motion the legal mechanisms which could stop Russia in its tracks.
wiadomosci.wp.pl

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Poles Exceed Expectations

March 1, 2014

Poland Surprises Everyone

Poland Surprises Everyone

There is an article about the Polish economy in the context of Poland’s history in Foreign Affairs magazine. The author is Michtell A. Orenstein, the economist, publicist, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University in Boston. Professor Orenstein heaps lavish praise on Poland but he also shows the country’s shortcomings. First of all, he summarises the history of Poland, starting with the partitions, and speaks with great respect about the progress that Poland has made in spite of its “traumatic history.” He also reminds readers that Poland is the sixth largest economy of the EU and living standards have improved two-fold since 1989. Orenstein quotes Dr Marcin Piątkowski, the World Bank economist, who concludes: “Poland has probably just had the best twenty years of its entire millennial history.” Professor Orenstein also points out Poland’s faults. In his opinion, one of the main challenges that Poland has to face is bureaucracy. Poland came in 41st place in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International (the higher the position, the lower the corruption). According to some entrepreneurs the process of removing administrative barriers to business by the government is too slow. However, in Orenstein’s opinion, Poland is still a more attractive choice despite the fact that the Czechs and Slovakians offer similar business opportunities. Poland’s 38m population is a major selling point. Orenstein writes that Warsaw is sometimes called the ‘phoenix’ city and the question today is how high can this phoenix fly? “Economic expectations suggest that the Polish economy will increase by 2.5% annually until 2030 and then it will become one of the twenty largest economies in the world before it will be buried by depopulation. If it becomes possible to create a hospitable business environment and build an informed economy, increase immigration and the birthrate, the Polish economy could expand even faster. After all, Poles have a special talent for exceeding expectations,” writes Orenstein.
m.tokfm.pl

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