On the 20th anniversary of the European Union Single Market, the Polish Ministry of Economy hosted a forum in which the potential of new technology, a knowledge based economy, and the need for new growth were discussed as important elements if Europe is to pull itself out of its current crisis. The National Forum on the EU Single Market “Together for New Growth” served as a reminder of the benefits of economic integration to the more than 500 million citizens of the EU, especially Poland and the new member states, and called on current member states to continue implementing the full market since it is still work in progress. Many ideas discussed during the Krakow Declaration at the first Single Market Forum last year were continued and elaborated upon further, stressing the need for more political will in implementation if a fully functioning single market is to be achieved.
The current Minister of Economy, Waldemar Pawlak, pointed out that the Single Market is the largest internal market in the world, and is a great achievement thanks to entrepreneurs, public servants, and citizens themselves; but that they have to continue to adapt to an increasingly knowledge and technology based economy. He foresees a new era where cooperation among the member states is not only desirable but also increasingly necessary in today’s international environment.
Kristin Schreiber, Deputy Head of Cabinet for Commissioner of Michel Barnier, responsible for the Internal Market and Office of Harmonisation, mentioned specific examples of success, such as lowering airfares in Europe by as much as 40 per cent, and Erasmus students having higher levels of employment than their non-Erasmus peers. She didn't avoid ongoing challenges, however, such as the current imbalances among member states, with unemployment among Greek and Spanish youth surpassing 50 per cent, for example. Comparing the EU’s 2 per cent support for venture capital in innovative start-ups to that of 14 per cent in the United States, she showed the EU can and should do more in this regard.
Jacek Krawczyk of the European Economic and Social Committee argued that more integration and centralisation in certain areas such as aviation would save both money and reduce carbon emissions, for example, but that there is a lack of political will from member states. In the process of trying to spur new growth, Europe is still trying to maintain ambitious environmental and climate targets, further emphasising the need and importance for research and development in making both possible.
There is also more work to be done in the integration of transport and energy links, a prerequisite for more efficiency and free movement. But while EU leaders, notably Germany and France, have different views on both the best way to deal with the current economic challenges and the spectre of a two-speed Europe, dragging their feet and struggling to come to a common agreement when not pressured by the markets; Poland is hoping that the worst is behind us and that once the issues are dealt with, it will join the Eurozone itself, giving it more of a say in financial and economic matters that effect all of the EU, not just those in the Eurozone.
Krzysztof Walski is a graduate student of Politics and International Affairs at the University of Kent and the Jagiellonian University. He has a BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA