Central and Eastern Europe is EU's growth motor - Polish president

It is the fastest-growing region of the EU and this trend will continue in years to come, said Duda. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries will be the European Union's new growth motor, President Andrzej Duda said at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos on Thursday.

Europe's continued development hinges upon the maintenance of stable growth, according to Duda.

The EU's young members from the CEE region brought 110 million new EU citizens to the bloc and increased the EU's territory by 28 percent. However, only 10 percent of the EU's GDP was generated in the region at the time of the accession, Duda said.

As a result of a 30-year-long transformation, the region boasts strong economic growth, low unemployment and diversified economies, which make it one of the most attractive investment destinations, Duda went on to say. These diversified economies are based both on traditional sectors as well as innovative ones, he said, listing the automotive sector and IT services along with agriculture, the timber industry and real estate as well as electronics, finance and food processing.

It is the fastest-growing region of the EU and this trend will continue in the years to come, Duda also said.

However, the region still suffers from economic and infrastructural barriers separating it from the rest of the EU, according to Duda, who cited a report claiming that removing those barriers will require investments worth some one billion euros.

He argued that the answer to this need is the Three Seas Initiative, which seeks to strengthen economic and infrastructural ties between the countries lying between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas. According to Duda, the key to achieving these ambitious goals is cooperation at all levels: local, regional and national, as well as support from strategic partners - the European Union and the United States.

The president went on to say that the last four years had been a period of success in cooperation, especially economic, and pointed out that the result of these efforts was the creation in June 2019 of the Three Seas Investment Fund, a project co-financing instrument for the region.

"What is important is the commercial and market initiative, which - I believe - will draw private investors," Duda said, adding that a means by which to jointly strengthen regional cooperation is another financial instrument - CEEplusindex.

He explained that this instrument combines in a single portfolio the biggest enterprises from Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary. He said the emergence of such an index was evidence that there is no competition between the region's stock exchanges, but rather synergy. "CEEplusindex is a significant step towards opening the region to companies and investors from the whole world," he said.

Duda also said that at a time when the economies of the "old Europe" are slowing down, Central and Eastern Europe has the potential to fill the gap and present new, innovative ideas for economic development.