On the 31 st of May the Council of Ministers adopted the “Six-Month Programme of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council in the Second Half of 2011”, presented by the government's plenipotentiary for the preparation of government administration and Poland’s Presidency of the EU Council.
The Polish Presidency will work to foster economic growth through the further development of the internal market (the electronic market included), and use EU budget funds to design and develop a competitive Europe.
In the wake of the economic crisis, the EU concluded that new rules on economic governance are indispensable, and ought to include an array of new tools to prevent recurrent waves of crisis, the European Stabilisation Mechanism being one such tool. The Polish government’s position is that the European Union has to enter a subsequent stage: the time has come to introduce a new model of economic growth, one allowing the Union to secure an appropriate level of economic development for the coming decades, and to guarantee the well-being of EU citizens. If Europe is to become competitive globally, it should not continue focusing exclusively on public finance and on measures to limit budget deficits. Additional action is required.
The view of the Polish Government is that the array of tools serving the purpose of securing sustainable economic growth on a European scale should include a new, multiannual EU budget (beyond 2013). Formal discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework shall commence under Polish Presidency. The Polish Presidency declares that the new EU budget should be an investment tool used to the purpose of implementing the “Europe 2020” strategy. The Polish Presidency wishes the new budget to serve as confirmation of enhanced cooperation within the EU as the most appropriate response to the economic crisis; moreover, the Polish Presidency believes that the Cohesion Policy should remain the Union’s key policy as a tool which has benefitted and shall continue benefitting all EU member states. The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, warranting modernisation of European agriculture and its enhanced competitiveness, will be another important issue.
Another objective of the Polish Presidency will be that of finalising the process of developing a single market, with a view to release its full potential.
Special attention shall be paid to the development of electronic services. This shall be tantamount to taking action to abolish barriers blocking cross-border online transactions, and to continue efforts to reduce roaming charges. It is estimated that 60 percent of online transactions in Europe fail to complete for reasons of legal barriers. This is why works shall commence under Polish Presidency to create the 28th legal system facilitating the closing of sales agreements within the internal market; efforts shall include a project of simplifying potential internet transactions for 500 million citizens. The new system would function alongside the 27 current legal systems.
As part of internal market reform, the Polish Presidency wants to work on improving conditions for small and medium enterprises, with special attention paid to their equity access capacity. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are key to European economic growth, generating approximately 60 per cent of GDP, and nearly 70 per cent of all jobs. The Polish Presidency shall support the Commission’s initiative to facilitate access to capital markets and high risk funds; moreover, it shall assist SMEs in third countries. The Presidency shall strive to complete a patent system both cheap and easily available to European enterprises. Our economies cannot afford to continue accepting the absence of such a European patent system, which is why it is so vastly important to resolve the issue as soon as reasonably possible.
Poland shall support the “Single Market Act” reform package of economic directives drafted by the European Commission. An important event to support internal market development – the SIMFO Single Market Forum will take place in Poland.
Secure Europe – Food, Energy, Defence
“Secure Europe” calls for an improvement in security in a number of areas. Firstly, Europe must improve its macroeconomic security. Raising the quality of economic governance in the European Union shall be the primary task of the Polish Presidency in areas of economy and finance. The Presidency shall support actions and proposals to improve the regulation and supervision of financial markets, as well as to draft crisis management procedures (to protect financial markets against negative crisis consequences, and to secure financial stability).
The Polish Government believes that the “Secure Europe” design schedule should include a step of developing foundations for the European Union’s external energy policy. Poland takes a view that that it is essential to work out solutions to strengthen that policy, and is confident that the EU’s position in relation to major producers, consumers, and transit states of energy resources can be made considerably more robust, should action be taken to enable improvements in the Union’s operations in the international energy environment, ensuring savings as well as more favourable conditions for economic growth.
The Government’s position is that a Common Agricultural Policy reform improving effectiveness of EU funding use should be a yet another aspect of making European security a more robust system. Enhanced CAP should remain market-oriented and take public interest into consideration, with agricultural security and multi-faceted development of agriculture and rural areas as its focus. Resolving the issue of direct payments and of rural area assistance ought to be recognised as a crucial component of the Common Agricultural Policy reform.
“Secure Europe” spells border security as well. In the course of our Presidency, we shall aim to conclude works to amend the regulation on Frontex (the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of European Union Member States), to the purpose of making Frontex more effective in supporting member states in crisis situations, such as those in North Africa and the Middle East.
Strengthening the military and civilian EU capabilities shall be another important element of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council. The Presidency will support actions to consolidate the direct EU-NATO dialogue.
Europe Benefiting from Openness
During our Presidency, Poland intends to support the EU’s foreign and security policy to boost the Union’s position internationally.
Poland shall take action to proliferate European values and regulations, including further EU enlargement, and the development of co-operation with neighbouring countries. Through the creation of free trade areas with states of the Eastern Partnership, the Presidency will contribute to the process of expanding the region embracing the Union’s rules and regulations. Furthermore, a continuation of the enlargement process shall serve to extend our internal market to include millions of new consumers.
In lieu of recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and other states of the Southern Neighbourhood, the Polish Presidency will endeavour to enhance partnership-based co-operation, focusing on support for democratic transformation, for the creation of modern state mechanisms (with constitutional reform foundations), and for making the judiciary and the struggle against corruption more robust. EU support for the protection of fundamental rights, as well as the development of mechanisms to prevent persecution of minorities (Christians included) shall both be equally important to the process of fostering civil society. Simultaneously, assistance will be provided to stimulate economic growth, development and the creation of new jobs, as well as to intensify trade relations, and facilitate the movement of people originating in specific social groups.
The role of Polish Presidency will also be that of ensuring that Europe does not lose sight of her Eastern neighbours. As a part of the Eastern Partnership, Poland wishes for the process of signing association agreements and creating free trade areas (i.a. the finalisation of and/or progress in negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova) to continue. The Polish Presidency will pursue the objective of negotiating to liberalise the visa regime. We hope that key political decisions to this end shall be made in September as part of the Eastern Partnership Summit, in the presence of all heads of state and of governments of member and partner states. With regard to Belarus, the aim of the Union is to encourage the country to co-operate with the West, provided it respects the fundamental rules of democracy and human rights.
As part of her Presidency, Poland intends to take a leap forward in support of EU’s enlargement. An important objective of Poland’s Presidency in the UE Council shall be that of finalising accession negotiations, and signing an Accession Treaty with Croatia . Furthermore, we shall seize every opportunity to promote the continuation of accession negotiations with Turkey. We will ensure significant progress in accession negotiations with Iceland, and support EU-related aspirations of the Western Balkans.
The Government hopes that under Polish Presidency, a new framework of co-operation shall be established between the EU and Russia This relates specifically to efforts to sign a new agreement with Russia, and to develop a nEU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation.
In the area of common trade policy, the most important issue of our Presidency will be to continue the current round of multilateral trade negotiations as part of the World Trade Organization (the so-called Doha Round). Regardless of further steps to liberalise trade (i.e. eliminate customs barriers), other issues shall be debated, including agricultural subsidies, patent law, anti-dumping regulations and intellectual property protection
The document adopted by the Council of Ministers constitutes the final version of the Polish Presidency programme. Notwithstanding the above, further changes are still an option: they shall be introduced pending the situation of the EU, achievements of the Hungarian Presidency, and conclusions of the European Council summit in June.