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20 Years in the EU: Celebrating Poland’s Achievements and Contributions

POLITICS20 Years in the EU: Celebrating Poland's Achievements and Contributions

On May 1st, Poland celebrates the significant milestone of its 20th anniversary as a member of the European Union. Throughout this period, Poland has been the largest net recipient of EU funds, receiving a total of 161.6 billion euros from the EU budget since 2004. It has also led in the implementation and utilization of these funds. This has facilitated rapid economic development, modern infrastructure, and innovations. Experts also highlight numerous other benefits of EU membership, such as the influx of foreign investments, the opening of borders for business, students, and tourists. Additionally, Poland and other countries in the region have made the EU more responsive to the issues of its eastern flank and its relations with eastern neighbors.

Following an extensive preparation process for accession, on May 1, 2004, just after midnight, Polish soldiers, in the presence of government members and President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, raised the EU flag at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw. The abolition of customs inspections at borders was celebrated with champagne, and nationwide, picnics, fairs, concerts, and events were held. Similar celebrations are planned this year for the 20th anniversary of Poland’s EU membership, both nationally and internationally, under the auspices of Polish institutions and the national representation of the European Commission.

Bartłomiej Balcerzyk, acting director of the European Commission’s Representation in Poland, emphasized the overwhelmingly positive balance of Poland’s EU membership, highlighting two main aspects: economic and human. The abolition of borders has significantly benefited Polish entrepreneurs and citizens by enabling them to participate in the common European market and pursue opportunities abroad. According to recent CBOS surveys, a majority of Poles continue to support EU membership, with historical highs in approval noted in June 2022.

The Ministry of Finance reports that Poland has been the largest beneficiary of the EU budget within the Community, receiving a total of 245.5 billion euros over the last 20 years. This membership has led to a substantial increase in direct foreign investments in Poland, with GDP doubling from 2004 to 2022. The Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy points out the economic and social successes stemming from EU membership, including a significant increase in exports and a sharp decrease in unemployment.

Politically, Poland has become a more significant player in the European Union, influencing the direction of the EU with initiatives such as the European Energy Union and the Eastern Partnership. Poland’s role is underscored by its solid delegation in the European Parliament, influential politicians, and continued involvement in key EU policies, notably its strong support for Ukraine in recent conflicts.

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