Duda with Mentors
On January 18, Polish president Andrzej Duda will visit Brussels to meet with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, with whom he will discuss issues between Poland and the EU. During his stay, Duda will also speak with the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove. According to the Polish Secretary of State Krzysztof Szczerski, the meeting will focus on such topics as the Brexit, migration and energy policies including the future of Nord Stream 2. He also assured everyone that President Duda’s visit to Brussels is not related to the current changes made by the Polish government as the meeting was planned much earlier. Moreover, Szczerski added that up until July 2016 every one of President Duda’s state visits will be dedicated to preparations for the NATO summit in Warsaw. It is expected that the summit will touch on such issues as: security and the military capacity of NATO members, terrorism, the migrant crisis, computer security and the modernisation of military forces. Apart from his participation in the summit, President Duda will also attend the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in Washington DC in March. In the second half of 2016, the President of Poland will also make two important business trips: either to one Asian and African country, or two Asian countries.
Poland’s Chief Export
After Russia banned the import of products from Poland, Polish companies have been seeking other export opportunities. Spain has turned out to be one of Poland’s best partners and could soon become one of the five top export markets for Poland, according to Puls Biznesu. According to Marcin Luziński, a BZ WBK economist, Spain has undertaken several structural reforms and this has triggered faster economic growth. From January to April 2015, the export of Polish products to Spain increased by 22%, which positioned Spain as the seventh largest importer of Polish goods. First place is still occupied by Germany, where the export of Polish commodities increased by 9%; then the United Kingdom with an increased of 10.5%; and the Czech Republic, where Polish imports increased by 13.1%. Experts believe that Poland will soon begin making a greater impact on markets in the Middle East, the Far East, Africa and South America.
“A change in tax thresholds will happen sooner or later, but it must be aligned to the needs of the economy,” according to the Minster of Finance Mateusz Szczurek. The head of the Ministry of Finance avoided any specific declarations of when a cut might be possible, but pointed out that “more will be known when the draft budget for 2016 is accepted”. Szczurek argued that in comparison with other EU countries, Poland is a state with some of the lowest taxes. “Taxes to GDP in Poland are slightly below 31%, which is 8% less than the average in the EU. We actually collect a relatively small amount of money in taxes in relation to the size of the economy,” he stressed.
The Silesian Museum in Katowice, the Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw have entered prestigious “Mies van der Rohe” best building competition. The winner will receive the title of best European building of the last two years. The five finalists will be announced in May, and in February, we will know the name of the winner. The best building will be awarded €60,000. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is among the favourites for the main prize. Last time, the “Mies van der Rohe” award went to the Harpa building in Reykjavik, which contains three concert halls and a conference hall. It was designed by architects from Henning Larsen Architects and Studio Olafur Eliasson. The prize is awarded by the European Commission, European Parliament and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation in Barcelona, and is considered to be the most prestigious awards in contemporary architecture. Its patron, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), was one of the most important architects of the 20th century. The prize has been awarded every two years since 1987.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski are hoping for a good result in the European elections. Brussels is anxiously watching Civic Platform (PO) and its rapidly falling electorate. Meanwhile, a good outcome for Donald Tusk will allow him and Radosław Sikorski to seriously fight for the most important positions in the European Union. Polish MEPs belong to different factions in the European parliament. The key ones are the Christian Democrats (EPP), the Socialists (S&D) and the Liberals (ALDE). PO and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) belong to the EPP, one of the largest and the most influential group. Everyone is aware that the Christian Democrats will suffer losses and Eurosceptics will be a more significant force. The question is whether these losses will be so large to gain an advantage over the Socialists. That would signify a political earthquake in Brussels.
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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.
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Polish scientists have conquered Brussels. During “Innova 2013”, Polish scientists collectively won 23 medals (including 19 gold) and the Grand Prix. The main prize went to the Warmińsko-Mazurski University in Olsztyn and Nicolas Copernicus University in Toruń. An interactive 3D system of planning and documenting plastic surgery attracted most attention. Gold medals also went to such novelties as: a new method of producing cured meat using fewer allergens, adhesive bandages for badly healing wounds and a new type of painkiller designed for patients suffering from chronic pain related to cancer. The jury also acknowledged a Polish research team from Medical Inverni for their so-called ‘artificial bone’ that can be used in dentistry and post-traumatic surgery. Young Polish scientists were also successful. For example, a student from Połaniec designed a wristwatch that can help locate people with memory loss; students from Jastrzębie Zdrój invented a ‘flashlight’ for blind people, helping them to move about more freely. Young inventors from Białystok were distinguished for designing a glove that will help people unable to speak. In addition, a group from Częstochowa won an award for designing a grabber for firefighters and bomb squads. 230 inventions in medicine, IT, chemistry, biology and electronics were exhibited in Brussels. 93 of them came from Poland. Prizes and awards were handed out by a jury consisting of almost a hundred experts from all over the world.
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