Ten years like one day

Anita Weprzędz

 

On 1st of May we were celebrating 10th anniversary of Polish accession to the European Union. Everybody asks: „Is this our success or failure?” Answer for this question is not obvious and probably this ten years is too small amount of time to receive it. But we could find some interesting figures and data which help us imagine how many changes happened.

Over twenty years ago Poland submitted formal application for the membership in the European Union. After negotiations and fulfilling established conditions Poland and nine other countries on 1st of May 2004 became a part of the European Union. On that day, with nice weather, everything seems to be the same. Surely we have some celebrations but we could not notice some big changes which just started to happen.

When we looked at economical data it is easy to see big transformation in Polish economy. For example unemployment was reduced from 19,5 % to 13,5 %, evidently we have few factors which determine lower rate of unemployment and our accession to the European Union caused most of them. One, which we might count as an unsuccessful attempt, is that 1,8 million people migrate to other Member States. Open borders which gave an opportunity to find work and some prosperity attracted big number of Poles. Another interesting data are that our GPD grew almost twice or that average wage increased from 2,2 thousand Polish zlotys to over 4 thousand – so improvement of the economic conditions is palpable. The average salary shot up and GDP per person in 2004 was 50% of the EU average. Our Ministry of Finance estimates that already in 2017 it will be 74% of the average. It gives us hope and sound really nice.

More often commented changes were connected with infrastructure because of data about length of expressways and highways – in 2004 we had only 765 km of 2847 km which we have now. We could read some opinions and questions, for example: „why Polish highways are more expensive than Germans?” but uncontested thing is that most of it is built with the help of the European Union founds. Whole Poland became one big construction site and without our accession that propably would not be possible.

But not everything is perfect. Through this ten years our public debt also rose almost twice. Our decision to take some money from OFE effect that now public debt equals 732 billions. Another problem which must me be solved in a close future is Polish women’s fertility which in 2004 euquals 1,4 and decreased to 1,33 in 2014. Poland is country which was placed at the one of last places in the world in case of women’s fertility. That might have huge consequences in future.

Many of us ask themselves how everything might look like if we were not member of the European Union but we are not able to find other country which we could compare to Poland. In my opinion there is one sure thing, without European Union we could not meet some challenges and face them. Entering to the European Union gave Poland needed impetus to develop.

In our city we have some anniversary celebrations and there you have some pictures from that event. You could see how Lublin enjoys 10 years in the European Union.

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