EU top jobs- taken!

Ewa Krakowska

           Elected. The European Council has elected PM Donald Tusk as the next President of the European Council & Euro Summits

                                                                                                          Herman Van Rompuy

Finally, all speculations around candidates for most prestigious EU posts can be stopped. Decisions were made during last EU summit on Saturday. The honour to be the President of European Council got Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk who was earlier a nominee along with Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt and former Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis. The job which was previously connected with the name of Radosław Sikorski, namely High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is now in the hands of Italian FM Federica Mogherini. It is said that Donald Tusk’s candidacy was accepted unanimously. Selection of Federica Mogherini as new foreign relations chief was earlier a matter of strong discussion which finally ended up as a consensus.

/Agencja SE/East News

/Agencja SE/East News

It is probably good to mention what this election really means. We can read in  Article 15 (6) of the Treaty on the European Union, the President of the European Council has the following, main tasks to fulfil: chairing  summits and drives forward its work and ensuring the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission. He also endeavours to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council and presents a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.

We hope that Donald Tusk will contribute to even better functioning of the most important EU body.


Be creative with European Union!

Ewa Krakowska


dancWe are all aware that European culture is unique, diverse and therefore in times of globalization it needs to be protected and developed on its own way. Creative Europe is a special cultural programme that cannot be missed by aspiring artists and cultural organizations on our continent. The European Commission took necessary steps in order to provide framework programme for support to the culture and media sectors in the period from 2014 till 2020.

If you are an author, filmmaker, actor/actress, musician or involved in any other kind of artistic activity, you can count on EU assistance for your projects. What type of help? There are many options like: working with partners in other countries, training (for example to switch to digital technologies) or audience development (share works across borders). In detail, thousands of creative organisations and audiovisual professionals will acquire new skills and strengthen their capacity to operate internationally. Publishers will benefit from funding to translate than 4,500 literary works.


Other things like giving prestigious awards to promote best creative talents in architecture, music, culture heritage, literature and filmmaking are also impotrant supporting tools. Every year there are chosen two cities to be titled „European Capital of Culture”. It is certainly a great motivation to increase artistic liveliness of many places.

All of this will be financed with a budget of €1.46 billion. Also the procedure to get money was simplified comparing to previous agenda. Of course, the best thing is that it does not matter how big the organization or project are- there is no possibility of discrimination. Androulla Vassiliou, former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth said that –

„The cultural and creative sectors have great potential to boost jobs and growth in Europe. EU funding helps thousands of artists and cultural professionals to work across borders and reach new audiences. Without this support, it would be difficult or impossible for them to break into new markets”.

Lastly, it is worth to mention that non- EU countries may also obtain the Creative Europe grants. For example eligible to apply in the Culture sub- programme are Iceland, Norway, Albania, Montenegro and Georgia.


Greatness of a tiny Europe


Ewa Krakowska

I have a feeling that we speak not often enough about positive aspects of our European variety. We say about it from time to time, that it exist, but we do not stress that its wonderful. Especially now when thanks to functioning of the European Union, many countries finally live peacefully and other try to cooperate with the organization. Contemporary Europe made of ancestors of Celts, Slavs, Germans, Romans is a varied land of opulent common history, art, knowledge and identity. Europe is simply beautiful mosaic accumulated on only 2% of the Earth’s surface. In the text I will indicate some fields that distinguish us from other continents.


“Proud to…”

– represent plurality of 47 countries;

have more than 200 languages;

have a common cultural and spiritual heritage (Greek, Romans);

– set the oldest, prestigeous universities: Bologna, Padua, Cambridge, Oxford, Charles University of Prague, Jagiellonian University in Kraków;

– have many objects on the list of World Heritage Sites made by UNESCO (77 sites in Eastern Europe and 131 sites in Western Europe);

– succeed in the creation of the Council of Europe and the European Union;

– the European Union as the biggest exporter in the world;

– say that the European Union received Peace Nobel Prize in 2012 (for advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe).

Unique organisation- the European Union

The aim of the EU is stated in the Treaty on European Union, where is written: “creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”. The initial idea that was expressed by founding fathers concerned stopping violence and conflicts in post- war Europe and making most important political actors (France, Germany) linked to each other economically. Nowadays the EU associates 28 countries. Citizens of Member States share the same EU citizenship. Abolition of controls at internal borders and common currency (euro) are also factors that contribute to fostering European identity. The European Union membership and standards bacame for other countries a main goal to achieve in the future.European-Union_source

Truth hidden in stereotypes

One can find set of stereotypes concerning almost every nation on the continent. Germans are considered to be people who love order and organization. Spanish nationals have a lot of charisma and artistic inclinations (dancing, singing, painting). Poles, Ukrainians and other Slavs are hospitable, helpful and hardworking. Italians can be mostly known for their emotional characters, beautiful landscapes and delicious food. France is a place where the diplomacy, political thinking reaches perfection as well as cuisine, fashion and art. Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland) stand for a balance power to a sunny temperament of southern countries. Scandinavians love nature, cleanliness, discipline. They are certainly very respectful and well educated.

European cocktail tastes good!

Let’s make a special menu of European dishes. I bet people from other continents would have hard time not to choose everything at once. On such a list would mix Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western European, cuisines making it impossible to compare them with any other continental cuisines. We Europeans would certainly propose to try from „this menu” things like: Spanish paella, Neapolitan pizza, Greek salad, Polish pierogi, Ukrainian borscht, English Sunday roast, Serbian Đuveč, Belgian moules frites and Russian pirozhki. For the dessert of course we recommend layered cake, so called Slovenian Prekmurska gibanica.

Everything said here may seem to be a perspective of someone wearing pink glasses. Of course I see some drawbacks, things that I would like to change in Europe, but then it would look like a utopia- place impossible to exist. Still, Europe is a welcoming homeland for us- Europeans and for other people willing to find here better life.


Innovation Convention 2014 #Part I

Opening in Golden Hall

Opening in Golden Hall

The second Innovation Convention organised by the European Commission took place in Brussels on 10th and 11th of March 2014 (previous edition was organised in December 2011). This well prepared event happening in such an attractive venue as Square- Brussels Meeting Centre had a lot to offer. Participants from the world of business, EU institutions and media could attend thematically diverse sessions. First day was the most intense and lasted from around 10 a.m. till 9 p.m. including networking lunch and coffee break (perfect time for rest and socializing). Second day of the Convention ended earlier around 1 p.m. with Pa-li-Tchi UV Light show. It was like a first moderator promised, we could certainly „feel the pulse of innovation”. Many displays of different firms were available to see.

SQUARE- Brusselss Meeting Centre

SQUARE- Brussels Meeting Centre

At the begining all guests were entertained by two physicists who performed scientific show „The Physikanten”. Mr. Marcus and German „Professor Iberman” did their best to welcome and wake up everybody. For this special occasion they prepared stage trick in which they engaged some people from the audience. The task was thought to conduct electricity through their bodies to play music. After the fun opening, the very much awaited speaker showed up, namely President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso. He was accompanied by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte who later also gave a speech about innovations present in his country. President Barroso once said before that „innovation is not only about turning new ideas in new products and new services. It is above about improving the quality of life. I would like Europe to be leading innovation efforts globally” This time he also confirmed big, European aspirations in the field of science by saying: “the future of Europe is science, the future of Europe is innovation”. He stressed one crucial point: „Innovation needs to be translated into regular life”.


Jose Manuel Barroso

Both politicians stayed to see the presentation of the European Women Innovators Award. Three winners were from Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Every one of them succeded in business connected to medicine.

During breaks in the whole event we had an opportunity to become more affiliated with new technological ideas, like for example Google Glass (Google browser built in glasses) or car powered by hydrogen.

Networking area

Networking area

Of course our team collected for you some interesting information from different meetings we were lucky to participate in. In summary you can read about thoughts that faboulous speakers shared during Innovation Convention 2014.

Ewa Krakowska

Lessons from Generation Z- What do young innovators (18 and under) think?”:

From a number of sessions I took part during two- day event this one made the biggest impression on me. I was delighted to watch and listen to those very young and smart people. Surprising for me was also the fact that they had so much to say not only about their accomplishments and science itself but also about education policy in their home countries. In the discussion took part EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan- Quinn.

The representatives of Generation Z were: Jack Andraka (the USA), Jordan Casey (Ireland), Alberto Elias (Spain), Elif Bilgin (Turkey), Sophie Healy-Thow, Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey (all from Ireland).

Jack Andraka became famous after medical breakthrough that he had made. This high school student at the age of 15 created a cancer sensor, specifically it detects pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer. The revolutionary aspect of this is that this detector can confirm the existence of cancerous changes in 5 minutes at the cost of 3 cents. For this achievement he was named a Champion of Change by president Obama. During the meeting the young man recalled obstacles that he had to overcome in order to finalise the project (he was turned down many times by professional scientists).

Elif Bilgin gained the attention of the world because of her innovative project “Going Bananas! Using banana Peels in the Production of Bioplastic as a Replacement of Traditional Petroleum Based Plastic”. She won Google Science Fair 2013 “science in Action Award. Her work on bioplastic material lasted 2 years and involved many experimentations that she conducted in her parents’ kitchen table.

Jordan Casey, the youngest speaker (13) shocked many people from the audience with both his achievements and modesty. He is self taught programmer and businessman who already owns 2 companies: casey Games and TeachWare. Jordan assured us that he can find balance between school and business. In the future programmer wants to move to London and keep what he is doing.

Alberto Elias, also programmer is engaged in Web and Android development. He created different Android apps. 18 year old is an advisor to Vice- President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes. Alberto encouraged youngsters to work and find passion as soon as possible and assured: “You do not need to wait till 40 to be happy”.

Alberto Elias

Alberto Elias

Three girls: Sophie Healy-Thow, Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey worked together on the project titled: “A statistical Investigation of the Effects of Diazotropth Bacteria on Plant Germination”. Their motivation was to formulate a concept which would be helpful in the fight with food crisis. Obtained findings allowed them to join the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in September 2013. They were awarded First Place. This became the opportunity to share the discovery in prominent places like Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Girls pointed out very strongly that it would not be possible without much of help from a science teacher in their school.

After sharing stories of their fields of activity young geniuses answered questions from the audience as well as those sent via Twitter. The Commissioner, sitting among them started discussion about education system, mainly its drawbacks. Elif advised specialisation in very young age. Alberto mentioned too big homework load, which may prevent exploring passions. Jordan sees that IT teachers are poorly prepared to work with pupils. Ciara concluded that potential in a student must be recognized.

As Commissioner said, in hands of such brilliant people our future is safe. Let’s hope there are more such unique minds in Europe to discover and promote.

Emil Wojtaluk

„Sports Innovation”:

From my perspective “Sports innovation” session was very interesting, especially during the second part when May El Khalil had the opportunity to share her experiences.

May El Khalil(Lebanon) Founder and President of Beirut Marathon Association. Thanks to her, the first international Marathon took place in Lebanon in Oct 19 2003.

Mrs El Khalil used to be a marathon runner and described her serious troubles of being hit by a bus in 2001. After the accident she spent 2 years in hospital being in coma and had 36 surgeries just to be able to walk, without any chances to be a runner again. After she went out from coma she promised herself that if she cannot participate in the marathons she could help others to had such possibility. She asked her husband to take some notes while recovering in hospital, and few months later the idea of Beirut Marathon was born. Her innovating idea was realized in 2003 when the first edition of this marathon took place with 6000 participants. El Khalil wanted to pay back to her community and take away bad thoughts about the accident. She started her lecture with reference to Arab Spring and difficulties of her country. Now Beirut Marathon is like a “platform for peace and unity” as she says. It helps to regain international credibility of Lebanon. May El Khalil recognizes taking part in the Marathon as a support for reforming country.

Values of sports according to May El Khalil are:

  1. bringing people together,

  2. idea of giving,

  3. and the last point is connected with disadvantaged persons taking part in it. Beirut Marathon has a lot of different participants like for example blind or mentally challenged people.

In the opinion of Mrs El Khalil if we continue to follow those values that she indicated, it will help to change the world through the sport. She achieved huge success starting from 6000 participants in 2003 to over 46000 registered participants of Beirut Marathon in 2013. Marathon helped to unite people and promote peace when her country was going through political difficulties and that is what makes Beirut Marathon special.

Taken from the discussion at the end of this session:

Someone from the audience asked Mr Francesco Ricci Bitti a question what he think about betting sponsors giving the example of Real Madrid and Bwin.

The answer by Ricci Bitti was that betting is not necessarily something bad in sport. Sponsorship is also a way of investing in sport, helping to develop it. Betting in the regular way is helping sport in the opinion of Mr Francesco. The problem is not the betting itself but the real problem is the use of betting by criminals.

Kamil Augustyniak

Shaping the 21st century, imagining the 22nd”

For me it was an interesting meeting due to the fact that even if we know how the economy works and we can predict some simple behaviors on the market we still lack of experience to push forward success internationally. The key point is partnership and social innovations that have to be developed to achieve next level in innovation. The idea of 22nd century is not clear until we organize and study completely the 21st.

The basic question stated during the meeting was: ‘Who funds research and who benefits from it?’ The second part is obvious for everyone because we, as society are the group who benefit. But what about founding? It can be noticed that there is a decrease in founding research by the governments that are still critical founders of innovations research. However, money is not so big problem in contemporary times. The key drivers for innovation are much more complicated we could imagine. There is so called eco system, consisting of: talent, education, capital, purpose (because of the practical point of view: purpose for what the company was created). We see that there are many approaches to achieve success but every time the fundamental research is crucial.

Practice: 40% of energy goes to old buildings that are inefficient and waste the resources that are hardly available. Now the world has problem with speed of development. 80% of resources are used by 20% of people that leads again to energy and resources inefficiency. That all happens because of the state of mind ‘use it and throw it’ that is completely wrong and opposite to innovations.

The simple scheme was presented: research challenge effect. So if the problem is so well known and we know how to deal with it, why is it not changing? We know something about future but still we do not know anything (or almost nothing) about what will be valid for economy in a few years. The 21st century is hard enough to see significant effect of worldwide innovations. So the tasks for now are:

  • Firstly, the issue of social innovation must be completed to talk about economic/material innovations. Only cooperation leads to success. We have to understand how the partnership works.

  • Secondly, we have to learn how to re-use data. The success will be an effect of numerous failures.

  • Thirdly, the innovation itself is inefficient without collaboration and society awareness.

To be continued…

Coming back to the European Parliament #2

Ewa Krakowska and Emil Wojtaluk talk with Professor Zbigniew Zaleski, Polish psychologist and Member of the European Parliament in years 2004- 2009.

Ewa Krakowska: Before the adventure in Brussels, you were successful scholar and lecturer at the Catholic University of Lublin (the job that you currently continue). Which occupation do you find more fulfilling?

Zbigniew Zaleski: Tough question. With the first one I feel stronger connection. I worked hard and I did all I could in this field. But it was pleasure, because I met many people posing questions. The essence of science is asking questions, those that are most basic and valid- they are still deep if we look at my profession, psychology. It interests me, I would not change my job. Throughout five years of working in European Parliament I slightly gave up my academic work, although I managed to write a book called: „Psychology of support for New Europe”.

Answering the question, what I value more I would say that science is deep, rich and also occupies our minds. Many generations add something to its development, especially in psychology. For many years it was my way and identity. I identify myself with work at the University, with students. It keeps me still so alive. I highly value this way of life.

It’s not bad to be politician. You became so called VIP, it’s really comfortable. This occupation is easier than being a scholar. You may fail. In the world of science you must confirm your talent and knowledge. Political world functions other way. But I remember the times when I took advantage of being Professor in European Parliament where there are many other professors. I got along with them. As the scholar I was asked to share my opinion on issues like: abortion, circumcision of girls or adoption by homosexual marriages. As we can see my academic formation was not abandoned at that time. Sometimes I could even gain something because of it.

Emil Wojtaluk: Do you observe the work of Polish representatives in the European Parliament Mr Professor? If yes, how you can assess it?

ZZ: If you are inside you live it. After the loss I have been replaced by Professor Kolarska-Bobińska. I do not know what duty she fulfilled there, I must just see it. When I will enter there, I will quickly learn what is the status quo and I will participate in this Parliament as before. For the moment I observe it from outside like every citizen through the lens of hits: “What will happen?”, “important voting, speech”. I am interested in speeches of people that I know, for example the President Shultz – is he still a tough guy. I noticed that the role of Nigel Farage – critic of the Union, has grown up. His presence is necessary, because he sharpens the feeling in the others. And because I was there, I feel the spirit of time, I know what values are important and who is with who. Recently I was delighted with the news how much money we will get from EU budget for our Polish affairs. It was a satisfaction, thanks to this support we can develop continually. For now, I cannot imagine ourselves not to be in the European Union, even though I know the Union is not easy. It is good that we are there and we have our say.

EK: Are you going to continue the work of Professor Lena Kolarska-Bobińska or to propose your own initiatives?

ZZ: I am going to find out what she has done in our region. Good practices I will eagerly continue. For me, as a scholar, especially appealing is activity connected with youth. It’s not my desire to overwhelm them with EU, but just showing how to exploit all the possibilities they have in offer from the institution. I want to promote communication, direct contacts, languages. Previously I organised the project „Englishman in the family”. Somebody from Great Britain was going to Poland and was living with the family, so the kids could pick up some language skills. Then such a person was like Polish ambassador in homeland. So I guess I will think of the activities I like, in which I have the experience and some successes.

Coming back to the European Parliament #1

Ewa Krakowska and Emil Wojtaluk talk with Professor Zbigniew Zaleski, Polish psychologist and Member of the European Parliament in years 2004- 2009.

Emil Wojtaluk: According to the latest news we know that you will replace Mrs Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, MEP from this region. Is it confirmed fact?

Zbigniew Zaleski: There are some formal procedures connected with this. Either Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska will renounce her mandate or The European Parliament will make such decision. Then it goes to the Electoral Commission that confirms who is next from the last election results. Afterwards it goes through the Marshal of the Sejm. The procedure will last some time, approximately one month. Probably it can start to function from January. It may happen, that the candidate will reject the proposition, I agreed on this stage.

Ewa Krakowska: The situation is rather unexpected. Did you think about such coming back?

ZZ: I didn’t have that attitude. Five years of mandate is not long time. We could expect that Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska will finish normally her tenure.

And in time I became lukewarm towards the institution that once I had very strong connection. The emotions are less intense. Now I know how things work there. For somebody who is there for the first time it must be a significant experience. This time I will find my place in European Parliament quickly, because I know to which party I will join.

EW: There are several months left till the next European Parliament election, have you ever contemplated to be a candidate Mr Professor?

ZZ: No, I did not have such thoughts especially. I was there already, I was happy to function inside this body for a five years, to get to know Europe and the possibilities of the European Union. According to my own assessment I was working intensively. But now it does not depends only on me but on Party chiefs, because they are decision-makers, they are deciding who will be put up to run for election, who deserves it. I do not have expectations to bet on me, not particularly. The future will show.

EW: You have been chosen the MEP during the first election to the European Parliament conducted in Poland – new Member State of the EU at that time. What you remember the best from that experience?

ZZ: It was essential for me that we are in the Union and we are entering as the Members of the European Parliament. There were different MEP’s in the first “toss”. From that time some attitudes has changed, healthy Euro-criticism appears.

The first thing that I remember concerns languages, that people did not speak any foreign language but they claimed that they do. They stayed only in their groups. It was sad for me. Maybe they could create something new if they could communicate with the others. The situation was that nobody knew them, let alone they did not know anyone. If I could decide on appointing such person for the office, I would do a test, to assess if a particular person communicates in any foreign language. It is very important.

The next issue has historical character, for I read Norman Davies’ book White Eagle, Red Star about Polish-Soviet War 1919-1920. In 2005 fell the anniversary of Katyń massacre, being the fresh MEP I tried along with deputy Prof. Wojciech Roszkowski from PIS to commemorate that fact by the minute of silence during the session. We arranged copies of the letter containing death sentence for Polish officers – signed by Stalin by his famous blue pencil. To my surprise, the President Josep Borrell decided that there will be no commemorating. This decision came to me earlier. I regarded this as a fiasco. However people made a fuss of it – in a positive sense that journalists from France and Germany started to question me about this. I explained that to them and many articles were published. It became quite famous case in Europe, in some circles. I cared about it so that the other people, elites in the West could find out about this.

The other experience is connected with South America. I have been frequently asked to fly on a missions, the electoral mission for example. Maybe because I did not need any translator. Once on such visit, “I did cost” almost 10 million. In Bogota, during the break of working as an observer I went for a walk, to talk with the local people. It turned out later on that in existing conditions it was risky, it is very easy to kidnap anyone. It is how the people earns money there. One of our guards terrified after that event, followed me around until I went on a plane back to Europe. As I found out later, in the case of kidnapping I would cost 10 million dollars. Maybe I was ill-advised that I did not tell I am going out. The fact that I could jeopardize the European Parliament really moved me.   

(To be continued…)


EUROpens Blog is back!

After long break our blog opens a new editorial season. Now we continue what was created by the former team.

Let us introduce to you- our editorial board consists of:

Adrianna Brzozowska, Anita Weprzędz, Ewa Krakowska, Ivonna Orlova, Emil Wojtaluk, Kamil Augustyniak, Karol Panas.

The aim of our blog is to broaden your knowledge about the European Union, inform you about important issues and events within the EU and Europe as such. We hope EUROpens Blog will become a vital source of information for you!

With regards,

Editorial Board