Investing in the environment: equals investing in economic prosperity for Poland
Having joined the European Union in 2004, Poland spans the demographic and economic boundaries between the EU’s major players and its smaller ones. The only EU member state not to have been in recession over the last years, mainly due to EU cohesion fund transfers, Poland is the top recipient of EU funds, receiving a net benefit of EUR 8.2 billion in 2010. EU funds make up 1.3% of the total Gross National Income (GNI) of Poland.
The Polish role in EU Budget debates is characterised by its foreign policy position in favour of deepening European integration. Poland forms close ties with Germany, France, and Britain, and its status as a leading new Member State can be heard in the EU.
Unfortunately, Poland is currently failing to ensure EU integration during EU Council meetings. Poland, being a country whose economy is dependent on coal, has been controversial in blocking any form of steps forward for the EU to move to a low carbon economy; something that would ensure European sustainability, energy security, and economic prosperity.
Yet, Poland has a tremendous potential to reduce carbon emissions through renewable energy, energy efficiency and land mitigation of carbon (i.e. preserving carbon stocks). Poland’s biodiversity is also among the richest in the European Union. Poland’s natural diversity includes large areas characterised by traditional, extensive agriculture with a rich mosaic of habitats. For example, the Bialowieza Forest is the best preserved primeval forest on the European lowland. Investing in the environment is nothing but beneficial to society.
The current EU debt crisis will clearly limit the availability of EU public funds for the environment if governments do not recognise the environment’s role in boosting the economy. At the same time, it is an opportunity for a debate on the most efficient and wise use of taxpayers’ money and for the phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies.