Poland outlines agenda of EU presidency

Tadeusz Chomicki, the Polish ambassador to China. Photo: Courtesy of the Polish embassy in Beijing

As Poland took over the presidency of the European Union on July 1 from Hungary, Tadeusz Chomicki, the Polish ambassador to China, discussed the challenges facing the EU and its relationship with China.

Chomicki said that Poland’s agenda during its presidency and its role in the EU can be summed up in three words: “growing,” “secure” and “open.”

Poland will be supporting economic growth in the EU by deepening the single market – by promoting, for instance, development of e-commerce, a unitary EU patent system as well as lower roaming charges for cell phones.

The ambassador said that Poland wants to strengthen Europe’s security on a number of fronts, including the fields of energy, food and defense.

Poland wants the EU to be more open to the outside – especially by engaging its neighbors. The ambassador said, “By the end of our presidency, we want to see accession negotiations with Croatia completed, progress made in talks with Turkey and Iceland, and more cooperation with the Balkan states.”

Chomicki also said that Poland wants to put significant emphasis on the EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative aimed at engaging countries with its East.

Although every presidency has its own detailed agenda, the ambassador said that “part of the agenda is dictated by life itself.” As he stated, “I am sure we will have our hands full with things like the ongoing economic and financial crisis and the fast-evolving situation in North Africa and Middle East.”

Speaking of the ongoing European debt crisis, Chomicki believes that China has a positive role to play in the eurozone debt crisis. “Paradoxically, the situation may bring our two large economies – China and the EU – closer together. There is no doubt they both need each other. I believe China has a tremendous role to play in Europe’s further development, and Europe is vital in the long-term strategy of China’s development,” he said.

Just last month, China Overseas Engineering Group (COVEC) withdrew from a $447 million highway construction project in Poland after incurring heavy losses. The ambassador said that the COVEC case should be seen as a valuable lesson, however, not a discouraging one.

He pointed out that as the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying stressed recently, the European market is very demanding and highly regulated and poses a big challenge to many Chinese companies who lack the appropriate experience. The ambassador believes that the COVEC case is a textbook example of that.

Chomicki was emphatic that Poland still welcomes Chinese businesses and investors. “We are an important gateway for Chinese companies to the entire European market and many of them already operate in Poland with much success. Some even have their regional headquarters in our country,” he said.

As an EU member state, Poland has an extremely transparent legal environment, he said. “We strictly adhere to the rule of law, which means Chinese investors and Chinese companies can be assured that they will be treated fairly, just like anyone else. There is no space for discrimination. You just need to familiarize yourself with the regulations.”

The ambassador was very confident about the future of bilateral economic relations. Both Poland and China have economies that have persistently shown a positive trend in growth. As he said, “In terms of growth, China is the world leader and Poland is the European leader.  This creates strong fundamentals for bilateral cooperation.”

He stressed that “the volume of the bilateral exchange is below our potential and our expectations, so there is still room for a significant increase. Polish consumers have learned to appreciate Chinese products. It is time Chinese consumers learn to appreciate Polish products. We offer high quality goods at relatively lower prices.”

As for the thorny questions concerning the EU arms embargo and its granting of market economic status to China, the ambassador made it clear that such issues are up to the Council of the EU to decide. He said that “this is the nature of common EU external policy. We will, however, participate in shaping those decisions, just like any other member state.”

Source: Globle Times

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