EU. Our place for the past 15 years
On 1 May 2004, Poland joined the European Union. Together with nine other states, it became a full-fledged member of the European community. Today marks the 15th anniversary of these events and Poland’s EU membership is supported by a record 91%* of our country’s inhabitants. Europe is a place where we live and work. It is a place that we help to develop and one that helps us to develop!
Membership of the European Union accelerated the development of the Polish economy, thanks to which Poland is now one of the fastest developing economies of all Member States. Opening up to new markets and forging closer ties with the European and global economies have increased our competitiveness. Transfers from the EU budget and remittances from Poles who moved to work in other EU countries spurred our domestic demand, while Common Agricultural Policy instruments have had a positive impact on restructuring the Polish countryside. Even though the number of farms decreased by more than a half, agricultural production grew by over 20%, evidence of a significant increase in productivity of Polish farms. Since our EU accession, Poland’s GDP has doubled, while our economy ranks first in Central Europe and sixth in the EU in terms of GDP value in the purchasing power parity. The economies of countries that joined the EU in 2004 grew and made the power and importance of the entire Community grow as well.
Poland is constantly seeking new solutions in these conditions. We rank 39th (out of 126) in the Global Innovation Index – a global ranking of innovation. Thanks to European funds, 7,806 innovative Polish inventions received financing, among them the Mars Rover, HoloLens eyeglasses, Triggo – a two-seated city electric vehicle, as well as instruments and prototypes of cosmic systems used in outer space missions.
Connected without borders
No need for passports, new roads, the elimination of legal and trade barriers – borders are actually disappearing. Since 2007, 13,000 km of Polish roads were built or modernised and EU funds co-financed municipal and rail transportation. Community funds helped to improve our broad-band Internet networks, providing access to a constantly growing number of users in Poland. Since 2017, we can talk freely on the phone with our loved ones across Europe, because the EU eliminated roaming fees. As EU citizens we have also gained greater access to entertainment while traveling – new regulations allow us to benefit from Internet subscriptions for films, television, e-books, video games, and music services across EU as we do at home.
Culture of cooperation
The European Union co-finances the renovation of historical monuments of great importance and value for the European heritage. Thanks to European funds, new museums, art centres, philharmonic houses and libraries are built. One of the pearls of modern architecture that was co-financed by the UE is the Szczecin Philharmonic House – the winner of the Mies van der Rohe Prize – the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) in Katowice, the Gdansk Museum of World War Two and the European Centre of Solidarity. Modern scientific centres like the Copernicus Science Centre, Centre for Science and Technology EC1 in Lodz, the Academic Complex in Rzeszow, the Experiment Science Centre in Gdynia and many others are noteworthy.
As many as 70,563 Polish school students participated in placements and research internships and more than 180 thousand Polish college students studied abroad on scholarships under the Erasmus/Erasmus+ programme thanks to European funds.
Since joining the EU, Poland has been actively engaged in Brussel’s dialogue with its eastern neighbours. In 2009, on Poland’s and Sweden’s initiative, the Eastern Partnership programme was created to forge closer political and economic ties between the European Union and its eastern neighbours: Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Poland also actively supports European integration of the Western Balkans. The best proof of that is a Western Balkans summit that will take place in Poznan in July.
As an active EU and NATO member, Poland feels responsible for regional and global security. This is why we are taking an active part in EU peacekeeping missions: in the Balkans, in Eastern Europe, on the Mediterranean, and in Africa. We also looking for responses to global challenges through our active involvement in providing assisting those in need. Polish Aid has been present in the world since 2004 and has been implementing bilateral projects in the Eastern Partnership countries, in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The European Union – which we have been helping to create for the past 15 years – is the world’s biggest donor of development aid!
Together for a better future
We, Poles, have a long tradition of cooperating with other people. As early as in 1569, we signed the Act of the Union of Lublin, which gave rise to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – a voluntary community of European states. In 1989 we were the first to trigger democratic transformations that ultimately led to the downfall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. We have given Europe a lot in the past. Now we are actively engaged in a debate on the challenges facing the Community so that in the years to come, together with other EU Member States, we can make an even better and stronger contribution to the future of our continent.
*According to CBOS (Public Opinion Research Center).