Academic journal article New Zealand International Review

Poland Leads Europe: Beata Stoczynska Reflects on Poland's Achievements as President of the European Union Council

Academic journal article New Zealand International Review

Poland Leads Europe: Beata Stoczynska Reflects on Poland's Achievements as President of the European Union Council

Article excerpt

Seven years after its accession to the European Union, Poland assumed the presidency of the Council in 201 I. It was confronted with a number of difficult issues arising from the economic crisis and the union's identity crisis. It aimed to rebuild confidence in the union and to prove that the union was able to respond efficiently and effectively to the challenges involving the euro zone, economic growth and unemployment. Among the highlights of Poland's presidency were the signature of Croatia's accession treaty and the conclusion of negotiations concerning an association and trade agreement with Ukraine. Economic governance of the union was also strengthened.

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After seven years of active participation in the European Union, Poland assumed responsibility for European leadership on 1 July 2011. It has been 21 years since the election in 1990 that ended communism and gave Poland again a freely elected president, Lech Walesa. We restored our freedom and dignity by mobilising around one bold idea and the values it represented--Solidarity.

Our presidency logo symbolises dynamism, positive energy and, of course, solidarity. It depicts Poland as a modern and young-spirited country which is a force for change in Europe. The joined arrows constitute a synonym for development and growth, whereas the colours used in the logo are derived from the flags of the European Union member states. The presidency logo was created by Jerzy Janiszewski, designer of the now world-famous 'Solidarity' logo, which became the historic symbol of Poland's transition to freedom and democracy in the region.

The European Union is a story of optimism, growth, teamwork and commitment, a story of success and solidarity. There has been nothing else like it in the world's history. The European Union is still facing enormous challenges. That very ambitious project--in all its complexity and determination--is confronting new problems. Optimists insist that the European project is now too big to fail. Pessimists insist that it is now too big to succeed. Each country preparing for the presidency asks itself what problems and crises can occur during the six months of their leadership of the European Union. We knew from the beginning that our presidency would be difficult. And we were right.

The Polish presidency tried to put the European Union on the path to faster development and was focused on three general priorities:

* European integration as a source of growth

* Secure Europe

* Open Europe

Important priority

The enhancement of the Eastern Partnership process was one of the most important Polish presidency priorities. In September the Second Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Warsaw. Thirty-two delegations from the European member states and partnership countries as well as representatives of the leading EU institutions summarised the first two years of the partnership's activities and took decisions regarding its future.

The ceremony marking the signing of the Croatia's EU Accession Treaty took place in Brussels on 11 December. The Polish presidency has also managed to develop a negotiating mandate for the European Commission in relation to the trade agreements with Singapore, India and Canada.

During the Polish presidency the beginning of the negotiations of the new EU-New Zealand framework agreement was announced; it will bring fresh ideas for co-operation between the European Union and New Zealand. They share common values: democracy, human rights, good governance. The European Union is one of the largest New Zealand trade partners. We have common cultural and social roots.

During the last few years we exchanged visits on the highest levels, including that of Jose Manuel Barosso, the president of the European Commission, who visited New Zealand last September. We all know that there is potential for broader and deeper co-operation between the European Union and New Zealand. …

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