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Citizens' Dialogue in Kraków with Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska

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5 years ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Poland’s accession to the EU in a very different way. Now it’s a good time to reflect if our society is ready to choose the EU as a way to develop. Does our society chooses Europe as an ”civilizational  choice”?

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska was in Kraków on 13 May for a Citizens’ Dialogue on the 15th anniversary of Poland’s accession to the EU. The event focused on the Poland’s position in the EU during the past 15 years, the upcoming European Parliament election, but also the communication of the European institutions with citizens. For 130 participants coming from different backgrounds, it was a great occasion to ask several questions.

The Citizens’ Dialogue in Kraków was a good opportunity for the Commissioner, as well as for the participants, to reflect on the past 15 years of Poland’s membership in the EU.

Commissioner Bieńkowska shared her thoughts and experiences – "Ten years ago it seemed that the road was wide, straight and easy, although we argued a lot with the Commission, much more than representatives of the current government, however results and decisions came out of those discussions, which were good and beneficial for Poland," she argued.

Poland, Commissioner said, at the moment of EU accession, due to its size and political influence, was naturally recognised by other states in the region as a leader and used that skillfully. Currently that position has been lost, as evidenced by the failure of the Polish government, in her view, for example in the matter of regulating delegated workers.

"Delegated workers and transport, a huge sector in Poland, that subject was lost by Poland, it was a hot potato and was inconvenient for other countries for years," Elżbieta Bieńkowska stated.

"Poland had such skill, sometimes absolutely necessary, not only to initiate various things but also to block talks on inconvenient subjects. At the moment we have lost that skill, if the situation was different the matter simply wouldn't pass through the Commission and Parliament, it wouldn't be discussed at all."

When asked on the image of the EU in Poland and far-right tendencies across the Europe, Commissioner touched upon Brexit and Polish debate on the Eurozone – “The process of making the EU ridicule and hideous is very long lasting one – this could be observed on the UK’s example. I wonder how was that possible to implement such a horrible anti-EU campaign in an international, multicultural, colourful country like the UK.

70% of investments in Poland are financed by the UE. We received 2% of GDP from the UE.

This are huge money which were negotiated because we were a loyal and active Member State. We were arguing, even harder than today, but it was obvious that at heart we wanted to be in the centre of Europe.”

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13 May 2019, 11.30 - 13.00 (CEST)
Międzynarodowe Centrum Kultury
Rynek Główny 25