The European Economic Congress 2014 in summary - 13-06-2014
Inauguration of the EEC 2014. Fot. PTWP

6100 guests, 500 journalists from 200 editorial offices, and the advertising equivalent of PLN 30m – these are some of the key figures that summarize the 6th edition of the European Economic Congress in Katowice, the most important economic and political debate in Central Europe.

The sixth edition of the European Economic Congress (EEC) took place on 7-9 May, almost 10 years after the EU saw its largest expansion with the accession of ten countries, including the Central European and Baltic states.

During Friday’s press conference, the event organiser, PTWP Group, among other things, the publisher of “Nowy Przemysł” (“New Industry”), an economic monthly magazine and the portal, summarized this year’s Congress.

Mr Wojciech Kuśpik, President of the PTWP Group and initiator of the European Economic Congress emphasized that the number of publications and the advertising equivalent, which is what it would cost in commercial terms to pay for a similar amount of media exposure, reflect the scale of the event.

The organizational budget for EEC 2014 was approximately PLN 6m, and the advertising equivalent for this year’s edition was five times higher. The Congress, which was held in Katowice, produced almost 5.5 thousand radio, press, TV and internet releases.

Mr Kuśpik mentioned that a survey of the Congress participants by the BCMM research institute indicates that over 90% of them said that they would come to the next edition in 2015. Similar figures were obtained in previous years.

Although most of the EEC guests came from Poland, the number of international visitors from Central Europe, mostly the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but also from other EU countries, is continually growing. Each year Katowice has received delegations from Africa and China, and this year from Pakistan as well.

As Mr Kuśpik emphasized, it is important that attendees have the opportunity to establish new contacts, and become acquainted with the interesting themes raised in panel discussions and the opinions of the invited experts. Many of the meetings held in Katowice help in establishing new business contacts and additionally have a positive impact on future investment decisions.

“We are convinced that the Congress has a significant impact, and already features in the annual diaries of the many distinguished businessmen and politicians who come here to Katowice, and take away positive perceptions of the changes that have taken place in the region”, said Mr Kuśpik.

He added that the event organisers always make every effort to ensure that the proposed themes herald current events, just as the world of business is mostly interested in what will happen over a few or a dozen years rather than in the next few months.

Such is the case with what has been the main theme of every Congress: EU energy solidarity. Economic cooperation with Africa and the EU-US free trade agreement have also been highlighted. These topics have become more subject to public debate since their exposure at the Congress.

Mr Kuśpik expressed the hope that EEC 2015 would take place in the new International Conference Centre that is being built in the neighbourhood of Katowice’s famous “Spodek” (a multipurpose arena complex). Construction work is due to be completed in the autumn of 2014. Previous editions of the Congress were spread over several or even a dozen smaller locations, scattered around the city centre.

The International Conference Centre, along with neighbouring facilities, such as the new Museum of Silesia and the new seat of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, will comprise what is called the Cultural Zone. All three facilities are located in the revitalized area of the former “Katowice” mine.

According to Mr Kuśpik, the new location will impress the Congress guests. Mr Kuśpik also said that work on the next edition of the European Economic Congress was already underway.

Mr Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, former Prime Minister of Poland, President of the European Parliament and Chairman of the EEC Patronage Council paid attention to the three leading themes of this year’s Congress.

“The first theme is for the EU to find a way out of economic stagnation. Many of us have got used to the fact that things are alright as they are, and think that they don’t need to change. However, any revival will not be possible without access to cheap energy. After all, it is only cheap energy that will enable Poland and Europe to entertain economic growth of over 3%”, said Mr Buzek.

The second theme was the freeing of global trade, most importantly, the free trade agreement between the EU and the US. The third theme was the broadly understood reindustrialization of Europe as a tool for economic development.

“The debate held in Katowice has a broad impact in the EU. Our objective is to make sure that the influence of the Congress grows, and that its subject matter differs from other events of this type”, added Mr Buzek.

Mr Mirosław Sekuła, Marshall of the Silesian Province, emphasized that it is thanks to the Congress that the region is able participate in and influence European and global discussion.

“Development requires cooperation, and people cooperate better when they can meet and talk, especially when the people meeting can affect important economic and political decisions”, said Mr Sekuła.

The importance of the Congress to the Silesian Province was also underlined by local business representatives in a survey conducted by the EEC organisers. Among them was Mr Leszek Lerch, a partner in EY and director of their regional offices in Katowice and Kraków.

“The most important issues relating to industry should be talked about in its heartland, which is Upper Silesia. People can see the changes happening here, and they can see it’s worth being here. Some people think this is the most important congress for discussing industry and other important issues. The whole of Europe is talking about reindustrialization, and the heart of Polish industry is where this should be”, explained Mr Lerch.

Mr Mirosław Czarnik, President of the Upper Silesian Industrial Park (GPP), said that in Silesia the Congress is simply much needed.

“The fact that we are renting out space, and the largest developers are building in Katowice, is also one of the effects of the Congress. Please note the six years the Congress has been running and link it to what has happened in Katowice during this time. People see Katowice in a different light now, which is why they have started to invest here”, said Mr Czarnik.

President of Energoinstal, Mr Michał Więcek, said that the EEC was the only opportunity to meet all your potential clients and contractors in one place.

“Taking part in the debates helps us get to know different points of view, which in turn gives us a chance to better understand the market and its future developments. Congress attendees who come to Katowice are positively surprised – the curse of ‘dirty, black Silesia’ has been lifted. Visitors can now enjoy a modern city”, said Mr Więcek.

The European Economic Congress 2014 (EEC) in Katowice was attended by representatives of some of the largest Polish companies, such as Enea, Lotos, Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa, KGHM Polska Miedź, Orlen, PGE, PKP and Tauron, as well as global brands, including ArcelorMittal, Google, Hitachi, ING, Kapsch, Microsoft, Orange and Siemens.

The following distinguished guests were the speakers at the 6th European Economic Congress: Mr László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion; Kamel Bennaceur, Tunisian Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining; Mr Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Chief Negotiator of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) for the EU; Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Deputy Prime Minister, Poland’s Minister of Infrastructure and Development; Mr Jerzy Buzek, Member of the European Parliament, former President of the European Parliament and Prime Minister of Poland, Honorary Chairman of the EEC Patronage Council; Mr Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy; Mr Zoltán Cséfalvay, Minister of State at the Ministry for National Economy of Hungary; Mr Maciej Grabowski, Poland’s Minister of the Environment; Mr Jaroslav Neverovič, Lithuanian Minister of Energy.

The Congress was also attended by: Mr Włodzimierz Karpiński, Poland’s Minister of Treasury; Mr Khurram Dastgir Khan, Pakistan’s Minister of Trade; Ms Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, Poland’s Minister of Science and Higher Education; Mr Grzegorz W. Kołodko, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance in 1994-1997 and in 2002-2003, Mr Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, Poland’s Minister of Labour and Social Policy; Mr Jan Kulczyk, Chairman of RN Kulczyk Investments, Founder of the CEED Institute; Ms Essossimna Legzim-Balouki, Minister of Trade and Private Sector Promotion, Togo; Mr Dan Mullaney, Chief US Negotiator; Mr Janusz Piechociński, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy; Mr Antonín Prachař, Czech Minister of Transport; Mr Mateusz Szczurek, Poland’s Minister of Finance; Mr Rafał Trzaskowski, Poland’s Minister of Administration and Digitalization; Mr Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland and Mr Lech Wałęsa, President of Poland in 1990-1995.

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