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18th May 2004

Poland’s Preparation for the Membership

The conference "Appraisal of Poland’s preparation to the EU membership" was held on May 18th, 2004 in the Cracow University of Economics. The conference topic was set on the basis of the Agreement signed between the Cracow University of Economics and Jean Monnet Project of the European Commission and constitutes the first topic in the series of conferences related to the following areas:

- Poland’s preparation to membership in European Union,

- the areas of economic advantages resulting from differentiation among member countries of UE,

- identification of the economic results of the European Union integration.

In the conference the following problems were analyzed and discussed: Polish strategy of transformation and integration, macroeconomic and microeconomic competitiveness of the Polish economy, level of economic development and real convergence, competition challenges of the Single Market, institutional building in the area of financial and banking sector.

The list of conference participants, the respective presentation of themes and their main thesis include:


  • President H. Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Deputy President of EBRD, former head of Poland’s Central Bank, "The preparation of the Polish banking system to EU membership”

Over the past 15 years of transformation Poland has undergone a massive reform of the banking sector, which included in many respects a creation of completely new institutional framework. This permitted benefiting from new institutional developments and helped to leapfrog a substantial distance between Poland and developed EU. Now the banking sector is one of the best sectors in terms of the level of advancement and preparation for EU competition. This will not however save the local institutions from having to respond to competition pressures. Increased competition should be seen as an acceleration of M&A activity in both the commercial banking sector and the sector of co-operative banks.


  • Prof. K. Żukrowska, Warsaw School of Economics, "Polish strategy of transformation and preparation to EU membership"

 Poland’s strategy of transformation assumed from the very beginning a deep microeconomic restructuring of the corporate sector. The strategy of strengthening domestic currency instituted under Balcerowicz plan force Polish firms to apply cost cutting on an unprecedented scale.  This also familiarized managers with tough competition conditions. The major and long term consequence of that is an improved microeconomic competitiveness and better adjustment ability of the Polish corporate sector to new conditions created by EU accession.


  • Prof. S. Lis,  Cracow University of Economics, "The international competitiveness on European Union market”

 Using macroeconomic cross-country comparisons Poland lags behind developed countries in several dimensions. First it has insufficient intensity of fixed capital utilization. To this the problems of legacy fixed investment suboptimal allocation should be added.  It is extremely difficult to forecast when this and other gaps will be closed, as a number of factors remain obscure. One of those factors is the level and productive utilization of various forms of financial aid. Under a moderate scenario the GDP per capita gap between Poland and the EU average should be closed within 30-35 years.


  • Prof. B. Szopa, Cracow University of Economics, "Poland’s level of economic development in the aspect of membership in the European Union"

Considering the cases of all past enlargements of the EU, it seems that a formal integration does not constitute a breakthrough in itself in a country’s path to prosperity. Key to success remain domestic policies. An example of Greece as a diverging country in terms of GDP per capita during majority of its membership period in the EU was quoted. On the other hand there are examples of Spain and Ireland, in which adequate and well designed domestic policies helped to release impressive rates of economic growth.


  • Prof. H. Tendera-Właszczuk, Cracow University of Economics, “Polish and EU economies”

There are numerous areas where structural capital expenditures are needed to advance the level of Poland’s ability to compete on the European scale. Several such real cases were enumerated, accompanied by financial estimates, particularly in the area of natural environment protection. It is true that spending on those projects will require substantial financial commitment. On the other hand, an entry to the EU structures will only accelerate spending on those areas, which would have to be closed, is Poland seriously aspiring to converge with the developed world.


  • Prof. S. Miklaszewski, Cracow University of Economics, "Poland’s preparation to the Single Market"

Single Market remains still a politically driven project rather than prevalent economic reality. Integration phenomenon on a micro-scale is only slowly starting to take over. In this respect Poland is entering the new area and Polish firms will be able to participate in it since very beginning.


The Conference brought together a high number of academics, University professors, representatives of diplomatic community in Cracow, including the General Council of the Republic of Austria in Cracow and the General Council of the RussianRepublic in Cracow and around 500 students. Discussions were held between presentations. Some of the discussions concentrated on attempts to formulate alternative views to those presented by chief participants.





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