Over 150 themed sessions, 900 speakers and record attendances - 11.5 thousand participants, including over 700 media representatives - the tenth anniversary edition of the European Economic Congress (EEC) ended in Katowice. The Congress was attended by EU dignitaries, key representatives of Poland's Government, the Polish and EU Parliament, ministers and deputy ministers from Europe and from around the world and business representatives, experts and opinion leaders. European Start-up Days, the event accompanying the Congress, was visited by over 2.500 people.
- This year's 10th edition of the European Economic Congress was exceptional in many respects. Summarising the three days of the largest debate of its kind in Central Europe, we can point to the record attendance - both among participants and the media – the record number of sessions, speakers from all over the world and parallel events. This great interest is evidence that space for dialogue and business interworking make sense. “We have had a number of valuable discussions and made many important conclusions for the future of Poland and Europe”, said Wojciech Kuśpik, CEO of the PTWP Group, initiator of the European Economic Congress in Katowice, summarising the 10th anniversary edition of the event.
Guests of the 10th edition of the Congress that was held on 14-16 May 2018 included, inter alia: representatives of the European Commission - Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for Digital Single Market, Estonia’s Prime Minister in 2005-2013; Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy; and Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade.
Poland’s government was represented by: Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister; Jacek Czaputowicz, Foreign Minister; Teresa Czerwińska, Minister of Finance; Jadwiga Emilewicz, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology; Jarosław Gowin, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Science and Higher Education; Henryk Kowalczyk, Minister of Environment; Jerzy Kwieciński, Minister of Investments and Development; Krzysztof Tchórzewski, Minister of Energy; and Anna Zalewska, Minister of National Education.
The 10th edition of the Congress was opened by representatives of the regional authorities: Wojciech Saługa, Marshal of the Province of Silesia; Jarosław Wieczorek, Voivode of Silesia; Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice; Kazimierz Karolczak, Deputy CEO of the Upper Silesia – Zagłębie Metropolis; and Wojciech Kuśpik, CEO of the PTWP Group, initiator of the European Economic Congress.
The opening session, titled “Our new Europe”, was attended by, inter alia: George A. Papandreu, Prime Minister of Greece in 2009-2011; Iveta Radičová, Prime Minister of Slovakia in 2010-2012; Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, Prime Minister of Belgium in 2008-2009; and Alexander Stubb, Prime Minister of Finland in 2014-2015, Minister of Finance in 2015-2016, Deputy CEO of the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Experts shared their views on the future of the continent. The first day of the debate was devoted to the issue of European solidarity vis-a-vis such phenomena as migration, trade wars, Brexit and climate change.
“We started our debates at the Congress 10 years ago in a situation of a crisis. We have managed to overcome it and today, we face challenges that we did not think about at that time. We face the consequences of Brexit, internal European separatist tendencies and migration problems, and the free market now looks different in the context of US policies. The economy remains the starting point for thinking about the future”, noted Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, President of the European Parliament in 2009-2012, Prime Minister in 1997-2001 and Chairman of the Programme Board of the EEC, who lead the discussion.
“We need a new ethical code - a moral treaty to face the technological revolution. The European Union must play a key role in that context”, said Alexander Stubb.
“We need not less but more of Europe, more integration - which we will not achieve without a strong political will. May we not fall into the trap of a leadership crisis”, said Herman Van Rompuy.
Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, noted during the European Economic Congress at the session “The future of free trade in Europe and globally” that today, political divisions become gradually less important; the split between right and left has been disappearing and the main line of division is between the attitude of openness and closeness.
“Openness means that we are not afraid of what exists beyond our borders, that we are open to change, that we believe in personal freedom. This is not just an issue of trade but also openness to people, ideas and innovations. The closed party would rather construct walls, set borders. This is a reaction that can be understood. During the crisis, lots of people lost their jobs as a result of globalisation. We need to help those people, train and educate them so that they can continue developing”, said the Commissioner. “It is us who create globalisation and we may let it create us”, she added.
The discussion session “Investments” held on the first day of the Congress was attended by Stepan Kubiv, Ukraine's First Deputy PM and Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
As he stressed, over the last four years that have been marked by the Euromaidan events, much more has been done to reform the Ukrainian economy than in all the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Deputy Prime Minister thanked the Polish authorities for the support that has been provided to Ukraine in the international arena. He added that Poland was a strategic partner of his country in its efforts for economic and political integration with the European Union.
The economic proprieties of the government in Kyiv now include: improved business environment, growth of SMEs, public-private partnerships and attracting foreign investments.
“Ukraine has always been a great European country”, said Stepan Kubiv.
Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's Prime Minister, came to Katowice on the second day of the European Economic Congress.
“In 10 years Poland will be a high-tech country, it will be a country surprising other countries and companies at large with its modernity and innovative nature. I believe that there are future leaders of the Polish economy in this room”, he said, addressing the participants of the European Start-up Days. He also visited the stands of the 100 best start-ups, as identified in the Start-up Challenge, who were displaying their achievements in the dedicated Scale-up Alley at Spodek.
In the session opening the European Start-up Days, titled “Technologies to change the world”, Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for Digital Single Market, stressed the importance of data and data protection in today's world.
He also emphasised that Poland could play a major role in the development of artificial intelligence. However, a stronger effort is required to develop our potential. As he admitted, we have great scientists and specialists. “Business and industry should be committed so that all Europe will benefit”, he appealed.
The third of the European Commissioners present in Katowice, Miguel Arias Cañete, participated in the panel: “The world for climate - what will the climate summit in Katowice bring”, as well as in the press briefing dedicated to the event, where he said that COP24 in Katowice would be the most important climate meeting since Paris.
“The International Congress Centre in Katowice is a symbolic place, developed on post-mining sites with EU finances”, said the Commissioner, stressing the importance of the location of the Climate Summit.
He also took the floor in a discussion dedicated to hard coal mining in times of transformation. He said that the European Union would spend more money on the fight against global warming.
“Climate change is a fact as recognised in the Paris Agreement. I believe that we are able to reach political consensus on all these urgent issues,” he said. He added that energy transformation was an opportunity to create thousands of new jobs in the European Union and grow GDP.
“As the authors of European Commission policies, we are responsible for seeing that no region is neglected. Our cooperation will create value added. The EU's new budget provides for further efforts for decarbonisation to comply with the obligations as set forth in the Paris Agreement. We will spend hundreds of billions of euros on research, innovations and new technologies,” said Cañete.
Much attention was paid to the Congress debates devoted to mining, especially on the third day. “As a result of the reforms of the last two years, nobody now asks any more if we need Polish coal and Polish mines. The emphasis has been moved to the operational vision of the coal sector and the prospects of coal and mining in Poland so that the situation is stable, efficient, safe and effective”, said Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Deputy Minister of Energy, government's plenipotentiary for hard coal mining restructuring, at the session titled “Polish coal - 2030 prospects”.
The Deputy Minister stressed that in the near future, the government would accept a program for the brown coal sector.
A similar strategic document for hard coal was approved at the beginning of the year.
“By supporting Polish mining we support competition in the national economy”, he argued.
The Deputy Minister stressed that, in accordance with the government program, the coal output for Poland's power industry would remain at an unchanged level over the long-term horizon - about 65 million tons. This task must be faced by managers of coal companies. They will find it easier to plan with the long-term demand for coal already known. As he said, the hard coal sector wants to be treated as a business. This role is confirmed by the scale of taxes paid. Financial reserves have begun to accumulate that will build a buffer for the lean years when coal will not be in demand.
Tobiszowski stressed the role of innovations in mining, and adequate management to also secure mining companies in the event of future low demand for coal. As an example, he referred to Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa and the stabilisation fund of PLN 1.5 billion. He also referred to the business activities of Polish mining companies abroad, e.g. in India.
Special guests at the 10th anniversary edition of the European Economic Congress in Katowice also included: Ian Brzeziński, a US expert for foreign politics and military affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Europe and NATO Policy under President George W. Bush; Liu Guangyuan, ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Poland; Justina Mutale, Foundation for Women's Leadership; Dominique Ristori, general director for energy; Ellen Tauscher, deputy chairperson of the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Centre on International Security, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs; and Justin Yifu Lin, former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank, author of New Structural Economics constituting a theoretical foundation for the Morawiecki plan.
International corporations, organisations and enterprises from Poland were all involved in the European Economic Congress, including: ABB Group, Adwokatura Polska, Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu, ArcelorMittal, Asseco, Baker McKenzie, BASF, BGK, Bombardier Transportation, Budimex, Cavatina, CEZ Group, CMS, Cordia, Crido, Deloitte, Dentons, Deutsche Bank, DZP, Echo Investment, Enea, Energa, Enterprise Investors, European Investment Bank, EPP, ESL, EWE, EY, Fitch Ratngs, Griffin Real Estate, Grupa Lotos, Grupy Maspex, Grupa PKP, Hotele Diament, Impel, ING Bank Śląski, InnoEnergy, Izba Gospodarcza Reklamy Zewnętrznej, Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa, Kapsch, Katowice Airport, KDWP, KPMG, KSSE, Lotos, LPP, Millenium Bank, MSD, Murapol, Orlen, OT Logistics, Paged, PARP, Pern, PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, PGNiG, PKEE, PKP Energetyka, Polpharma, Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT, Porty Lotnicze, PWC, Sieć Otwartych Innowacji, Siemens, Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak, TDJ, Veolia, Warbud, Węglokoks and Work Service.
Among the headline topics covered at the 10th European Economic Congress were: political transformations in EU; the economy after Brexit; the hierarchy of values in the economy in the age of new generations of employees; the future of cities and metropolises; investments; the fourth industrial revolution; digitisation; electromobility; artificial intelligence; virtual, expanded and mixed reality; the Internet of Things (IoT); blockchain; robotisation and automation; as well as the benefits and hazards deriving from the expansion of the world of new technologies.
The Congress agenda also included sessions on such areas of the economy and public life as: finance, innovations, technologies and man, power and resources, mining and metallurgy, management, self-governance and regional politics, infrastructure, the health market, transport and logistics, construction and real properties and global economic co-operations.
During the 10th European Economic Congress in Katowice, Central Europe-Africa, India-Poland and ASEAN-European Union Economic Fora were held, as well as economic panels dedicated to economic relations between Europe and Japan, Poland and China, Germany, the USA and West Bengal.
During the third edition of the European Start-up Days, an event combining young and mature businesses, the winners of the Start-up Challenge were announced.
The best start-ups are: Abyss Glass, Genomtec, Handerek Technologies, NanoPure Technologies, Sense Monitoring and ShelfWise.
During the gala accompanying the EEC, the best practices and investment success stories will be rewarded under the Top Municipal Investment competition. Short-listed as part of this year’s seventh edition of the competition are not only classical municipal projects but also environment-friendly anti-smog projects and smart cities investments. The locations where the best municipal investments were completed last year were as follows: Gorzów Wielkopolski, Katowice, Legnica, Lublin, Opole, Rzeszów, Sosnowiec, Stężyca, Wojkowice, Wrocław, Żory and the Province of Mazowsze.
Foreign investors in Poland and Polish businesses conquering foreign markets were honoured in the Investors without Borders competition. This year's competition winners included: ABB, Asseco, Famur, LPP, Mondelez, MSD, Polpharma, Tatry Mountain Resort.
The discussions, meetings, presentations and exchanges of opinion during the European Economic Congress and the European Start-up Days were held in the International Congress Centre in Katowice and the Spodek Arena directly linked with it.