The Polish Presidency
Poland assumed the Presidency of the European Union on July 1, 2011 and will retain it until the end of December. They are preceded are by Hungary, another post-communist Member State that entered the EU in 2004. Prime Minister Donald Tusk hopes that the Presidency will ride the rare wave of economic success experienced in Poland and lead the European Union by focusing on three key priorities:
European Integration as a Source of Growth
The European Union, like much of the world, finds itself in a financial crisis. Poland believes the EU will recover from the crisis, but to reach full strength it must rebuild social trust. The EU must do more than repay debts but take proactive steps toward creating growth. The Cohesion Policy, Poland says, is still the EU’s best form of investment, as it benefits all Member States and improves the Single Market. But the Presidency wants to deepen the Single Market and make it more transparent. In fact, Poland has stated that it would welcome a proposal by the Commission to overhaul certain facets of the Single Market. Nonetheless, the presidency still hopes to open trade up further to external partners, particularly economic partners to the east of the EU.
Secure Europe – food, energy, defense
With the Arab Spring occurring at the borders of the EU, border security is of utmost importance. The Presidency hopes to complete the amendments on the Frontex Regulation, and fully implement the initiatives of the Stockholm Programme in order to ensure security along Europe’s borders. Meanwhile, Poland looks to enhance the external energy policies of the EU, which can be made to be more efficient and lead to great savings. Food security and the Common Agricultural Policy need to be improved as well. Poland believes a reformed Common Agricultural Policy is necessary to ensure food security as well as a strong financial market.
Europe Benefiting from Openness
Poland greatly supports deep and open trade with the Eastern Partnership countries of Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. By improving and strengthening the economic relationships with these southern and eastern neighbors, Poland believes the EU can eventually extend its Single Market to these states. By utilizing the full potential of these European allies, the EU can increase the security on its southern and eastern fronts as well as expand its economic market. The Presidency wants to promote EU enlargement as much as possible, and anticipates the entrance of Croatia into the EU in, most likely, 2013. Poland also strives to engage with North African states, promoting cooperation-based partnerships and democratic development for those a part of the Arab Spring.
Poland, a country that is very supportive of the EU as a whole, wants to combat the recent trend of Euroskepticism. Officials from Poland have expressed frustration toward other Member States that have proposed the idea of re-introducing borders into the Schengen Area. The Polish Presidency believes that policy would “weaken” the community, rather than promote further integration. At the same time, there are differences between Poland and other Member States as to how the EU should handle the current financial crisis. Poland believes a bigger EU budget will support economic growth while others, including England and Germany, are promoting austerity measures and smaller budgets.
BBC. “Poland takes its turn at EU helm.” Last modified July 1, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13985064
Euractiv. “Polish EU Presidency vows to rescue European project.” Last modified July 5, 2011. http://www.euractiv.com/future-eu/polish-eu-presidency-vows-rescue-european-project-news-506228
Euractiv. “The Polish EU Presidency: Budget and solidarity.” Last modified August 31, 2011. http://www.euractiv.com/europes-east/polish-eu-presidency-budget-solidarity-linksdossier-505551
Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Poland. “Programme of the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.” Last modified May 10, 2011. http://pl2011.eu/en
Voice of America. “Poland’s EU Presidency to Focus on Integration and Expansion.” Last modified July 4, 2011. http://www.voanews.com/english/news/europe/Polands-EU-Presidency-to-Focus-on-Integration-and-Expansion--124963404.html