President says Europe needs new stimulus for economic growth

According to Duda, what is needed today is a new mechanism, which will help develop investments on a broad scale. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Polish President Andrzej Duda believes that Europe should be given a new stimulus for economic development, and that the approaching crisis, resulting from the coronavirus epidemic, can be compared to some of the world's most severe crises.

The Polish head of state said on Thursday that the European continent should again become "a huge workshop."

"All of us are aware, today, of the fact that the upcoming crisis resulting from the coronavirus epidemic is one which can be compared to some of the world's most severe crises, and that it will also affect Europe," President Duda said during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The president stated that investments could help overcome the crisis and lead to another stage of huge prosperity. "Europe and the world have always extricated themselves from crises owing to investments. And this time, we should also follow this path," he said.

He stated that he had sent a letter to leaders of the EU, the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership, in which he underlined the need of a proper division of funds in the future EU budget, including the strengthening of the Cohesion Policy. According to Duda, what is needed today is a new mechanism which will help develop investments on a broad scale.

"Europe should again become a huge workshop, we should return to manufacturing that Europe often abandoned a long time ago, (manufacturing) which due to the cost-cutting policy was transferred to far-away Asia or other places. In the times of the coronavirus this very often caused the breaking of supply chains and made it impossible to source components required for production," the president said.

Duda said European manufacturing should be modern and innovative, adding that this calls for huge outlays on research and development and an ambitious plan.

"I'm glad that this ambitious plan already exists, the prime minister has been taking part in the relevant negotiations on a daily basis," the president said, referring to the EU's latest post-pandemic recovery plan worth EUR 750 billion.

PM Morawiecki believes that the recovery fund together with the new EU budget are a very big and new initiative, as well as a huge financial stimulus that will give Europe and Poland the prospect of economic development.

Addressing the press conference with President Duda, the prime minister stated that "Europe must reinvent itself."

"Europe has to bring back those fields of the economy and various sectors, which, for various reasons, have been outsourced abroad, often very far away," Morawiecki stated.

"Based on the recovery fund, we want Europe to become great again, to be a global and key player, without which it will be impossible to take important financial, economic and political decisions," he said.

The prime minister declared that, together with President Duda, they had been striving to strengthen Central Europeans formats, like the Visegrad Group or the Three Seas Initiative.

The prime minister explained that, owing to the recovery fund, Poland would receive additional funds for roads, railway and other projects, "which are a natural economic stimulus." He also said that EUR 500 billion out of the entire EUR 750 billion project would be granted as direct subsidies, while EUR 250 billion would be distributed in the form of low-interest loans.

Morawiecki added that repayment was planned for the years 2028-2058. "This is a piece of good news since the coming years would not be burdened with the repayment of these funds," he said.

According to the European Commission (EC)'s latest proposal, the 2021-27 EU budget is to amount to EUR 1.1 trillion, and member states will also receive EUR 750 billion in special grants and loans to offset the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on their economies, of which Poland is to receive around EUR 64 billion.