Bulletin no. 66 Spring 2019

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Coen Meijer New Chairman of the NPCC

• ECC opens Nowa Stacja in Pruszków • RDH starts Urban Management studies in Poznań

66 Spring 2019


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Bulletin Spring 2019 4

NPCC

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CHAMBER CALENDAR

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ARTICLE

Director’s note

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Adrian Heymans, CEO of CEE Real Estate, talks about the opening of his new shopping mall in Pruszków

10 NEWS FROM OUR CHAMBER 14 INTERVIEW

Remco van der Kroft on his 11 years journey as Board Member and the Chairman of the NPCC

16 INTERVIEW

A portrait of Coen Meijer, the New Chairman of the NPCC

Newly opened shopping mall in Pruszków

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18 INTERVIEW

Sanne Kaasjager, the new Head of Economic Department of the Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw

20 NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS 21 ARTICLE FROM OUR PLATINUM SPONSOR

Long-term rental as an alternative to buying or leasing a car?

22 COLUMN

Staf Beems

23 COLUMN Huub Droogh

Chairmanship Transition Remco van der Kroft and Coen Meijer

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24 NEW MEMBERS 26 INTERVIEW

Huub Droogh launches new Urban Management studies at Collegium Da Vinci in Poznań

28 NEWS FROM THE EMBASSY 31 NPCC TEST DRIVE TESLA MODEL S The power of a supercar

Huub Drogh and his Urban Management initiative

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NPCC

Director’s note Dear Reader, “Improving your network requires daily effort” – that’s what I heard during one of the alumni meetings that I attended organised by SAAMBA at the Warsaw University of Technology Business School. And I couldn’t agree more. When networking is done well, it can not only help you to find new business, but it can also give you a competitive edge over your competition, again and again.

Bulletin is the quarterly magazine of the NetherlandsPolish Chamber of Commerce. It gives a voice to our members and informs about the activities the Chamber undertakes. The views expressed in the columns are theirs alone. The Editor-in-Chief is not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made by the columnists. Publisher: NPCC Managing Editor: Anna Kozińska Columnists: Huub Droogh Staf Beems

Networking isn’t just the exchange of information with others — and it’s certainly not about begging for favours. Networking is about establishing and nurturing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with the people you meet. Full stop. The team at the NPCC organises around 60 events annually, and we can see that the people who join in most events are the ones that are the most connected. We’ve noticed they have different reasons to work on their network. Either it pays off for their business, it helps their skillset, it gives them knowledge about the latest trends in their industry or it helps them to keep a pulse on the job market. Perhaps you are a member and you hope that your network will develop by itself, or that we will do it for you? Unfortunately, increasing your network means that you have to be proactive and go out and talk to people. When you join our events, we are happy to make the first introductions to others present at the meeting. The rest, however, is up to you. Since we have a broad range of members, all with different reasons for joining the chamber and coming from different backgrounds, working for different sizes of company and located in different regions around Poland and the Netherlands, we offer a wide-ranging calendar of events. We hope you will find something worth investing your time in. Please go to our website to find out more details. I’d certainly like to bring to your attention the Polish-Dutch Business Forum. This is an event which we organise jointly with the Embassies of Poland and the Netherlands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Netherlands, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Poland, PAIH, RVO and the Polish Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. It is a big event, and an excellent event for effective networking since many stakeholders for doing business in the Netherlands and in Poland will be present there. This Bulletin contains a number of interviews with new and departing members of the board, including one with our previous chairman, Remco van der Kroft. On behalf of our team, I would like to thank him for the excellent cooperation we enjoyed over the past 2.5 years. We are looking forward to working with Coen Meijer, the new Chairman of the Chamber. We also welcome Sanne Kaasjager, the new head of the Economic Department of the Netherlands Embassy, onto the board, as well as Gerrit Keen, who is joining our board and also the local board in the Netherlands. At the same time, we would like to thank Rob Rühl, who is stepping down as an NPCC board member but will remain active as an economic advisor to the board. We also thank Peter Verheij, who is stepping down as a board member. He was a very generous supporter of the chamber from his positions on the board in the Netherlands and formerly at the Netherlands Polish Council for Trade Promotion (NPCH). That’s all from my side. I hope to see you soon at one of our events and I wish you pleasant reading. Are we getting it right?

Photos: Elro van den Burg Anna Kozińska Milena Zychowicz Netherlands Embassy in Poland Advertisement management: NPCC Contact: www.nlchamber.com.pl office@nlchamber.com.pl +48 22 419 54 44

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Let me know at e.vandenburg@nlchamber.com.pl Elro van den Burg Managing Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

OUR PLATINUM SPONSORS


Chamber

agenda 9 April 2019

Activities of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce 19 March 2019 Company Visit Beyond Location: Poznań More info will be announced via our website

19 March 2019 Energy Industry Mixer Location: Wrocław More info will be announced via our website

22 March 2019 CEO Business Breakfast Location: Sopot More info will be announced via our website

28 March 2019 Business Breakfast for New Members Location: Warsaw, Bristol Hotel Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44 00-325 Warszawa

3 April 2019 Forum and Dutch Polish Business Award Location: Netherlands – The Hague More info will be announced via our website

Business Drink Location: Warsaw , Bristol Hotel Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44 00-325 Warszawa

24 April HR Seminar together with Randstad Polska Location: Poznań More info will be announced via our website

8 May 2019 Business Drink and Chamber Lab Location: Warsaw More info will be announced via our website

14 May 2019 Transport Seminar together with the Netherlands Embassy Location: Poznań More info will be announced via our website

21 May 2019 Business Meeting with IGCC Location: Kraków More info will be announced via our website

May 2019 European Labour Market Seminar Location: Amsterdam More info will be announced via our website

11 June 2019 Business BBQ Location: Warsaw More info will be announced via our website

4 April 2019 Speed Business Mixer Location: Poznań More info will be announced via our website

June 2019 Business BBQ Location: Gdańsk More info will be announced via our website

Please follow our NPCC website: www.nlchamber.com.pl for an updated calendar issue 66

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CEO Adrian Heymans of ECC Real Estate:

“Drone deliveries of your newly-bought sneakers? I don’t believe in it.” It is early February and Adrian Heymans has just returned from Thailand where he closed down the company’s business in Chiang Mai, after selling their shopping mall Promenada Chiang Mai. After 2.5 years travelling back and forth between Poland (“home”) and Asia, he is again focusing on Poland. One of his focal points is the Nowa Stacja shopping mall in Pruszków, which opened on 10 November. ECC has more projects in the pipeline, says Adrian.

beginning of January we have seen an increase in daily visitors. So we are very happy with these results.”

How have the first 3 months been after the opening of Nowa Stacja?

Why did you choose this concept here, in this location?

“They’ve been a tremendous success. We opened with almost 43,000 visitors on the first day, and bearing in mind that Pruszków has slightly over 60,000 inhabitants, that was quite a nice opening. From that day on, we have seen a steady flow of people visiting us and since the

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For people that don’t know Nowa Stacja, what is so special about this shopping mall? “It is a very special shopping mall for a town like Pruszków. We tried to give the town a mall which is normally seen only in big cities. One with all the amenities, the nice lighting, the nice common area furniture and the same quality of finishing like the ones in the big cities. That is what makes this place very attractive for the whole region.”

“Although other towns close to big cities have had shopping malls over the past 5 years, Pruszków was always kind of left out. We found this location four years ago and worked very closely together with the city authorities to create a shopping mall which matched the local Pruszków people’s expectations. We did that based on a study by


Millward Brown, so we knew exactly what the local people wanted. Until we opened, people from Pruszków had to go shopping in the malls in Janki, Blue City or Reduta and, on a typical day, that’s a 20-minute drive so people had to make quite an effort to go to the cinema or buy books or simply go for an ice cream.” Was it a difficult project to get off the ground? “It wasn’t easy, but we managed to convince all the parties involved that we would be bringing something very special to the town. I think all the parties involved, the local politicians, our partners and the retailers, believed that there is a market for a shopping mall like Nowa Stacja. Obviously, we had our hurdles but I have to say that developing a shopping mall like this in a four-year timeframe was not bad. Where I come from in my home country of the Netherlands, I have heard different stories.” What was the reaction like from the shops in the neighbourhood? “A shopping centre like Nowa Stacja, with all its amenities, will obviously be competition for the mom-and-pop stores in the town centre, but I think that is part of the normal evolution of a town like Pruszków, which is growing and wants to modernise. So I think it is a normal thing that the old mom-and-pop stores that we know from the early 1990s here will disappear, and there are still many such stores here in Pruszków. Having said that, we are always open to the local retailers talking to us about having a shop in Nowa Stacja. We encourage local entrepreneurs to join us and make this evolution in retail together. We are more than happy to host them and help them as well.” ECC is famous for opening Promenada, the first shopping mall in Warsaw. How does it feel to be back in Warsaw running a shopping mall after so many years? “It’s obviously a good feeling; however, we haven’t been out of the business altogether. I was involved in the Promenada mall in Chiang Mai over the last 2.5 years, taking care of our exit from Thailand. The current situation is that we have just sold Promenada in that country and now I am back in Poland. So I have still been working in a shopping mall for quite some time, just in a different country. But I have to say that it’s a nice feeling to have to drive only 15-20 minutes to get to your own shopping mall.” It’s in your blood to a degree, isn’t it? “Yes indeed, I like retail and I like shopping malls. It’s very organic. You have both feet in the community and you have to keep your eyes and ears open. You work with both B2B and B2C at the same time. You must make sure that everybody who comes through your doors is happy, feels comfortable and wants to spend money in your shopping centre. At the same time, you also have to be a host for your tenants. They have their own requirements, their marketing policies, their pricing policies and so on. So it really is a challenging and interesting task to manage a shopping mall.” At Promenada in Warsaw you were always in very close contact and had very personal contact with the tenants. Are you still doing that? “We try to work very closely with our tenants. Obviously, with the big chains this is more difficult than with the smaller ones. The big chains have their headquarters somewhere in Poland or even abroad, so it’s difficult to have a face-to-face meeting with their marketing department.

We do try but it’s simply more difficult than it was in the time we built Promenada. At that time, we knew every tenant by their first name and we even knew when they had their birthdays. That personal touch is gone, unfortunately, but it doesn’t mean that we’ve accepted it. We still try to talk to them because we are not a chain mall, like Unibail-Rodamco or the other big players, and we want to give them this personal attention. The owner is present, maybe not daily, but my partners and I are all here every day. My wife is also heavily involved. I brought my son from Thailand, who also now has 2.5 years of experience in the shopping mall industry. So there is a lot of personal involvement in this shopping mall.” In the days of Promenada you even taught the tenants how to run a shop, and you also published a magazine and had a TV show taking place in the shopping mall. Do you plan to do something similar here? “You have to remember that this was 20 years ago in the postcommunist era, when we had to teach our tenants in order to keep the quality of the mall at a certain level. However, at this moment, maybe I could learn something from the retailers. But when necessary, and if we see that we can improve, we will definitely take the initiative to approach our retailers and see what we can do together to boost our traffic and, therefore, our revenues.” But I assume that you still have an eye for detail and you would like to share this with the shop owners? “Yes, I still have that. Even on a day like today, which is a school holiday with obviously lots of kids walking around, I cannot neglect to pay attention to them so sometimes I call security to tell them to follow some kids for a few minutes as they are running up and down the escalators and causing problems. I still see out of the corner of my eye that they are decorating in one shop right now, which is not allowed at this time during the day. You know that this doesn’t disappear, but I will always strive for perfection in the mall.” What are the current activities in Asia still? “ECC decided 2 years ago to work towards an exit from Thailand. We successfully concluded the exit last November so, as of that time, Promenada Chiang Mai has been sold and there is a new owner. We are now winding up our organisation there, with part of the organisation having been taken over by the new owner.” What was the problem in Thailand? “It was a nice experience, but there is a saying for this: ‘Life is not a bed of roses’. And, for us, it was a very difficult market. Thailand is a very nationalistic market which is highly protected. The country is run by a few families that have divided up all the industries. It is simply very difficult for a foreign company, especially a relatively small one like us, to make a difference among all the big players that are operating on the market. Although we gave it our all, we didn’t manage to make it a success like Promenada Warsaw. Therefore, we said: Ok, let’s find a buyer, which we did, and then we moved on. I wouldn’t say that we would never ever go to Asia again, because in this respect we are typical Dutch entrepreneurs so if there is an opportunity, never say never. But for now, we are not active on that market.” What will be the next step for ECC? “Well, we are looking at new opportunities in Poland. Since I have moved back to this country, we will now be focusing with ECC back on Poland

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again. Here we are active in the retail development of shopping malls, but we are also now starting with a new project in residential, so we are securing property for this and updating the permits, after which we will launch the new project. We will not make any false starts by launching a project and then having to wait for the permits again, and therefore we will probably launch the new project by the end of the year.” If we look at the retail market, one of the big topics is Sunday closing for the shops. How do you see that? “At first, being Dutch and neighbouring Germany, we are used to having our shops closed on Sundays, although in Holland, for example, they are more flexible now and cities can decide their own Sunday opening hours. At first, I wasn’t very worried and looked at it like this: Ok, the business will move either to Monday or Saturday. However, what I can see in all shopping malls is that this is not true, and I think it’s a bad thing for the business.” It’s good for small shops, but not for the bigger ones? “I even see that people hold back from making purchases in all shops, so the small shops will suffer from that as well. A Żabka or small familyrun store may benefit from this, but for the small boutique stores, Sundays are very important. People in Poland still don’t have much else to do on Sundays, apart from visit family or go to church, and now they can’t spend this free time at the shopping malls either. So what they do is just hang around in front of the TV. Ok, if it’s a nice day, you can go to the park and go for a walk, but you can also do this on other days as well. I think it’s a bad thing and it will definitely influence the employment market. People will lose jobs. Maybe it’s too early right now for the big ones to start cutting positions, but it is completely logical that if you cut 15% of the opening hours, then this will have to be paid somewhere. On top of that, for those shopping mall operators with a cinema, fitness centre, children’s play area and a food court, which can all be open according to the law, it is quite expensive to keep the mall open just for those amenities. As you must have security, parking, and the heating must stay on as you can’t heat just part of the centre. So your operating costs basically stay the same.” Do you get complaints from the tenants about the closed Sundays? “Not me directly, but I’ve only been back in Poland from Thailand for 10 days. However, I hear from my employees that it is being discussed. I think that nobody would be crying if this law were reversed.” A few years ago, we also interviewed you for the Bulletin and you mentioned that there are still many ‘white spots’ for shopping malls in the smaller cities. Is that still true? “You know how it is, people go for convenience and everybody thinks that online shopping is very convenient and will take over the business. It’s true that if we don’t bring modern retail closer to the community, closer to the places where people live, we will not have a business very soon. We must fight and be competitive towards the online industry. Having said that, there are places where there is space for new shopping malls. I’m not saying that this will not harm the existing shopping malls. The cake is being sliced up into smaller pieces, so your appetite must be adjusted as you’re getting a smaller piece. When we opened Promenada, the first real shopping mall in Warsaw, the whole cake was ours. Now the cake in Warsaw must be shared by

Impressive surroundings of Nowa Stacja mall

30 others. In this respect, I am happy to be in Pruszków because the town has a master plan and this was the only place for retail with about 2,000 square metres. So we are quite comfortable here.” And what different approach do the shopping malls have to take towards the competition? “I think that shops should adjust their concepts more to convenience, to better customer service and be more experience-based, not just shelves full of sweaters, but also provide additional services to customers. Simple things like alteration of clothing, which you can offer in a store but which cannot be offered online. I have already seen in Thailand that H&M has a bespoke corner, where you can decorate your own jeans for example. So draw your people into your store by offering something more than simply buying a product and going home. I think that a mixture of concepts is also interesting. Think about having a coffee corner in a shop. Like in a bookstore, where you can not only get a book, but also a cup of coffee. I believe retailers are already working on these kinds of things. This is a necessity for our industry, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s for high street retail or shopping malls.” Do you think that time is running out and that this is the last moment for retailers to catch up with e-commerce? “I think if you let it go right now, you will fall behind and never make the gap up again. But I think retailers see this. They understand that if they do nothing, then that’s the end of the story for them. Some of them are faster to adapt than others. What I see is that all retailers, the big chains but also the hairdressers and the bookstores, are also looking into that and they are coming up with interesting new ideas. But also, on the other side - the online market - I don’t believe that their business model is sustainable. Returning a product 3 or 4 times is unaffordable. If you see online stores like Zalando, which has never turned a profit, then apparently money is still so easy to get on the market that people believe in that model. But honestly, I don’t believe in it. They’re opening bricks-and-mortar stores already, so even online stores see that it’s important to be close to their customers and that there should be a face to talk to when you want to exchange your shoes if they don’t fit or if they arrive damaged, instead of through an e-mail or a computerised helpdesk. So, at the end of the day, retail is a people-to-people business. All these fantastic ideas about drone deliveries of your newly-bought sneakers: I don’t believe in it. It all sounds very nice, and they are interesting stories to get investors interested in investing in something new, but I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.”

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Chamber

news and events

Seminar and photo exhibition at OKW to mark ‘Entrepreneurs’ Day’ The Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce, NL in Business and OKW jointly organised a successful seminar and photo exhibition in November in the premises of the Polish-Dutch law firm OKW. The event was attended by around 50 participants. Starting with a seminar on the future of the Polish economy presented by Rob Ruhl of Next Markets Advisory, the evening then continued with an exhibition on the honeymoon in Poland of HRH Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, which was opened by Martin van Dijk on behalf of the Netherlands Embassy. Researcher Marzena Drzewińska-Soons then gave a presentation on the subject of the Royal Family, after which came the ceremonial cutting of the cake by NPCC chairman Remco van der Kroft and NPCC director Elro van den Burg.

Christmas Business Drink in Warsaw On 4 December, we organised a Christmas Business Drink in Warsaw where around 40 guests were able to mingle and network in a special Christmas atmosphere. Our special thanks go to Justyna Nieciecka and BGŻ BNP Paribas for sponsoring this event. The Business Drink opened with an official welcome speech from the director of the chamber. Then the floor was taken by BGŻ BNP Paribas, with a short film about the bank being shown to the guests and Justyna Nieciecka adding a few words about the takeover of Raiffeisen Bank Polska. Then we heard some news from Martijn Homan, Agricultural Counsellor for the Netherlands in Poland, who shared with us the information about the new Head of the Economic Department of the Embassy. The Christmas Business Drink wouldn’t have been complete without the Christmas wishes from the NPCC chairman, Remco van der Kroft, and the official part of the evening then

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concluded with the traditional business card lottery. And since it was Christmas, we had more winners than usual with 7 people taking home prizes!

After this positive touch, we then went on to the next part of the event – networking over delicious Christmas food prepared by chefs from the InterContinental Hotel.


Chamber

news and events

New Year’s Reception in Łódź their recent achievements and ambitions for the coming years. Plenty of prizes were available at the event in the lottery draw, with over 20 participants going home with Dutch-themed prizes and gadgets, and our platinum sponsor Planet Car Lease also gave all guests a free goodie bag. We hope that the success of this event will be a prelude to a good year in Łódź.

On the first Thursday of February 2019, we had the honour to organise an event in Łódź which was attended by over 45 guests, including the mayor of Łódź, Mrs. Hanna Zdanowska. After the welcome speeches given by the NPCC representatives – Sławomir Karasiński,

Jasja van der Veen and Elro van den Burg – the floor was taken by the new Head of the Economic Department of the Dutch Embassy, Mr. Sanne Kaasjager. After that, we had the chance to hear a few words from the representative of Łódź City Hall, Mr. Adam Pustelnik, who spoke about

Speed Business Mixer with the French Chamber contacts for all those present. Thanks to the contribution of our sponsor, Air France– KLM, the business card lottery we organised was even more interesting than usual, with the main prize of two tickets from Warsaw to Amsterdam being won by one lucky participant.

We would also like to thank the second sponsor – Kadar – for providing the opportunity to taste their interesting products. After the official part of the evening, participants were able to start their networking sessions in smaller groups and establish solid grounds for potential future cooperation, all in a relaxed atmosphere with delicious finger food served by Golden Tulip and French wine.

On 12 February, we had the pleasure to organise our monthly Business Drink together with the French Chamber of Commerce, in an event which also took the form of a Speed Business Mixer. Over 130 members of the French and Dutch Chambers of Commerce took advantage of this unique opportunity to take part in speed networking sessions and enjoy some delicious cocktails afterwards. The main purpose of the event was to strengthen and widen the network of

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Chamber

news and events

New Year’s Reception in Poznań

On 31 January, the NPCC had the pleasure to organise a New Year’s Reception for the Poznań community. In the beautiful space of Concordia Design, together with our partner – the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – we were able to share with our members our goals for 2019 in the Wielkopolska region. Our special

guests – Joanna Kubik from Randstad, Katja Ložina from Poznań City Hall and Krzysztof Korzeniak, our chairman in Wielkopolska – all gave brief presentations on what to expect at the chamber in the coming months. One of the highlights of the official part of the event was the speech given by Remco van der Kroft, who took the opportunity to

Company visit to the Bols factory in Oborniki On 20 November, we had a very interesting company visit to the Bols factory in Oborniki, which is owned by CEDC. Together with the

15 members from the Wielkopolska region who took part in the visit, we learned more about the process of distilling and also about

thank all of our members and partners from Wielkopolska before the end of his term as chairman. The second part of the event was marked by the wonderfully relaxed atmosphere for the fruitful networking discussions over some delicious food and drinks.

the history of Bols in Poland. We learned that the company was established in 1994 as PZ Unicom and that it started to produce Bols Vodka in 1995. During the factory tour, we also learned about the production and bottling methods and had an interesting discussion on how to maintain high quality standards. Our thanks go to CEDC for this informative and productive afternoon.

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“Now, more than ever”

there is a need for a bilateral chamber, says departing chairman Remco van der Kroft After 9 years as a board member and 2.5 years as chairman, Remco van der Kroft will leave the board of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce. Bulletin looks back with him over his active years in the chamber. How do you look back on your past 11 years in the chamber? “I had a great time on the board and I am particularly pleased with where we are today as a chamber, with chapters in Łódż, Poznań, Gdańsk, Wrocław and the Netherlands and a team of 4 full-time professionals and an intern. When I joined the board in 2008, the running of the NPCC was subcontracted to a commercially run consulting company and except for the Bulletin, which was made by you, Elro, the NPCC did not organise much. Since all (new) members

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were also potential customers for that consulting company, there was an inherent conflict of interest. So when I was asked to join the board, my condition was that this relationship should be terminated. It was a good thing we did that, because when the consulting company later got in trouble with the justice system over a failed real estate project in the south of Poland, as a chamber we could honestly say that we had nothing to do with it. The only employee of the chamber at that time was Małgosia Szydłowska, a former employee of this consulting company. She did a great job in reviving the chamber but because she was alone, the board had to be much more active in running day-to-day things than today. At some point, the board decided that we needed to professionalise further and we started looking for a more experienced manager. That is when you came on board, Elro. To this day, Małgosia still works for one of our member companies.”


What for you is the most memorable event that the NPCC had in those years? “The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, the visit of the King and Queen to Poland, but this was not really a chamber event. For me, one of the highlights was when Poznań, where they had their own business chamber, re-joined the NPCC. That’s why it is so great that my successor is based in Poznań. This will no doubt give the Poznań members the feeling that they are duly represented on the board of the chamber. It has to be said, though, that the Wielkopolska region is one of the most important places for Dutch investment in Poland. The second highlight which happened during my presidency was the merger with the NPCH (in the Netherlands). This gave us a very enthusiastic team of Netherlandsbased board members. I hope that in the coming years this will result in more Dutch businesses joining our chamber as a way of improving their access to the Polish market.” Can you describe the mark that you have left on the chamber? “I believe that I was able to achieve a number of things. The first one is the Orange Ball. In 2008, I proposed to the board that we, as a chamber, were missing a flagship event. We wanted to do something different (not just another black-tie event) so we approached Rob Regenhart to see if he would organise his annual rijsttafel for the Poolshoogte (Netherlandse vereniging) together with our chamber. Our first event probably had around 80 guests and took place in a small restaurant - Lemon on Al. Ujazdowskie. It was such a success that we then decided to organise it by ourselves and make it bigger. Now it has become a very professional event with great entertainment and good food, and it also raises money for charity. Our members really use this event to promote their own companies by inviting clients and/or giving their staff a fantastic night out. The other thing that I see as a personal achievement is our current legal structure: a bilateral chamber of commerce accredited with the National Chamber of Commerce (Krajowa Izba Gospodarcza) with a Polish sp. z o.o. as a subsidiary for our commercial activities. Prior to that, we operated as a Dutch vereniging (association), which made our legal status in Poland very unclear. During my presidency, I think the main thing that I achieved is that the chamber team has become more independent in running the

chamber. All board members are volunteers with day jobs, and it is you and your team who have to run the chamber. The board should give direction and support the director.” Is there still a need for a chamber of commerce in Poland in the current times? “Now, probably more than ever. Without reverting to the pathos of Emmanuel Macron, we have seen that the Polish government on more than one occasion has directly attacked foreign investors. In addition, the legal reforms, which I have written about more than once in my columns, can potentially also negatively affect foreign investments. It is important that together with other foreign chambers, working within the framework of the International Group of Chambers of Commerce, we can make our voice heard. As chambers, we have shown in the past that we can do this in a different way, more directly I would say, than individual members who need to keep their own good relations with the government and also in a different way to an embassy. Diplomats need to stay diplomatic. When the Dutch politician Geert Wilders came up with his hotline to complain about Poles in the Netherlands, we were able to do some damage control for Dutch business, while the embassy could not openly attack a Dutch member of parliament. Also, the traditional function of the chamber, which is to bring people together to do business, will always be relevant. For newcomers on the market, in particular, it is good to meet other Dutch entrepreneurs or Polish businesses that already have a link with the Netherlands.” What will you be doing with your free time after you leave the chamber? “I will spend more time building my law firm, Olczak-Klimek van der Kroft Węgiełek. Soon we will have a new partner on board who will significantly extend our firm’s competencies. I would also like to do something new in the cultural field between the Netherlands and Poland.” Do you have any words of advice for your successor Coen? “Do not micromanage and use your Poznań perspective to help the chamber grow outside of Warsaw.”

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New NPCC Chairman Coen Meijer: “As a Chamber we want to add context” As of 12 March, Coen Meijer is the new Chairman of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce, for a term of 2 years. We sat down with him to talk about his ambitions and plans for the Chamber. Can you tell us something about yourself? “I’m married and I have 2 beautiful daughters. I’m active in the food industry, in the bakery sector. Our company Zeelandia produces ingredients for the baking sector and we focus on large industries, but we also service mid-sized and smaller companies like bakeries and production facilities. Royal Zeelandia has its own activities in 60-70 countries around the world, with 30 of those being full-blown businesses.

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My role within the group is area director for Central and Eastern Europe. The Americans would call it ‘the theater of operations’, which for me means Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Russia. I have been active in Poland since 1995. I arrived here on a 3-month contract and the deal was that if you like it, you can stay one more month. And that was 25 years ago.” Can you tell us a bit more about your history in Poland? “The beginning of my stay in Poland was purely coincidental and it wasn’t planned. But right now, I can say that Poland is my second home and I’m deeply involved in this country. First of all, via my marriage and 2 beautiful kids. But also, and not unimportantly, because of the business we have built up in Poland. In the beginning, that business was also coincidental as the group decided that we had to have ‘something’ in Poland.


Nowadays, Poland plays a significant role in the business of our company. What goes on in Zeelandia Poland is relevant to the whole group and that is something that you will observe in many companies that started in that era - growing from a coincidental establishment or subsidiary towards an operating unit that matters to the owner companies in the Netherlands. Poland matters. It’s an economy with 40 million consumers that have a higher disposable income every year. Poland is where half of the new Europeans from the block of countries that joined the EU in 2004 live. So Poland matters, both politically and economically. My involvement in Zeelandia Poland is different from 20 years ago. At that time, I was involved in the nuts and bolts of the business. I was their man in the field. Nowadays, I have taken a step to the side because my main responsibility is the whole area. So the position of managing director is now being filled by somebody else, a fantastic Polish talent who is doing a marvellous job. I couldn’t have done any better. He’s a great guy.” Can you tell us a bit more about your social life and network in Poznań? “My social life and network go hand in hand somehow, although my social activities have become less intense because of my work. I am travelling for three weeks out of every four. So yes, I must admit that work now has the upper hand over my social activities. And with fewer social activities, occasionally you also notice that your networks are getting smaller.” Can you tell us something about your activities in the network organisations in Poznań? “I was twice a founding chairman. Firstly, and now we are really going back to the Stone Age for me, it was called the international business club (IBS). I was the founding chairman, and I did that for about 10 years, until it died. Clubs come and go, and the IBS went, so we buried it. But we’d had great fun and it was ok. However, my DNA started to itch again and I couldn’t resist, so I set up a chamber of commerce. Again, I was the founding chairman and I did that for a few years. But there again, things come up and go down and when we observed that the chamber was going down, we decided that it would be best to join forces with the NPCC in Warsaw. So yes, I was the founding chairman of the Wielkopolski Business Club in Poznań, and when that lifecycle came to an end we gave it a new identity by becoming a chapter, the Poznań Chapter, of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce. And the rest is history.” What was the reason you decided to stand for the position of chairman of the Chamber? “I mentioned before that my work has taken the upper hand somewhat, and I don’t like that fact. It is a cocoon. The monster is

never satisfied and it’s always hungry. I decided to put it on hold, so when the Chamber approached me, my first reaction was an intuitive one and it was a yes. Later, you start calculating and you think: I can’t fix that with my work, but ok, too bad. So these types of initiatives, and chairing them, is something that’s in my DNA. I like to bring great ideas to great people, and try to help and increase relevance. By the way, that’s also what I’m doing in my work.” How do you want to increase the relevance of the Chamber? Do you already have some ideas? “I think a chamber of commerce is a typical organisation, and all organisations have to earn their right to exist. If you don’t, then you die. That is what happened to the predecessors of the Poznań chamber of commerce, they lost their relevance. People didn’t find it interesting anymore to attend and the network died out. So there is this natural gravity around the word ‘relevance’. What you offer must be relevant. What was relevant in the past is not automatically relevant tomorrow. I find it a very interesting question. I’m not suggesting that what we have done so far isn’t relevant; I’m just fascinated with how we can increase the relevance. Where can it be in 2019? Yes, this chamber is growing, but it’s also losing. We gain new members, but we also lose old ones. Why do we lose members? I’m not suggesting that we will never ever lose members. No, we always will. But it is important to think about how we can reduce these losses and grow faster. By increasing our relevance. I’m not sure how to increase this relevance, but I do have a few intuitive remarks. Entrepreneur members, in my opinion, must associate the Chamber with learning something new and being exposed to something new. I don’t think people will pay for old concepts that will die out, or just to have a monthly beer with other people. That will also die out. People will come back when they are stimulated or provoked a little bit. Our relevance can increase if we don’t only focus on the top man or woman in a company, the member who is also Dutch, but also on the Polish specialists in the companies. We tried that out in Poznań and it proved to be very successful. That is how you bind companies and glue them to your missions. Is there anything in particular that you liked or disliked at the Chamber? “I was extremely excited about something you organised about a year ago. It was about artificial intelligence and it was totally out of the blue, but incredibly interesting. That was something that stimulated me. It was something new and it allowed me to understand my context better. And that’s also important - understanding your context better. Sometimes it can be a pretty lonely job being the top man or woman in a company. Especially if you’re Dutch-speaking and your access to Poland is 50/50. It’s nice to have a chamber around that adds a little bit of context.”

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Sanne Kaasjager

Head Economic Department NL Embassy in Warsaw „I feel completely in my element” Sanne Kaasjager is the new head of the Economic Department of the Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw. Bulletin talked to him when he had been in Poland for just 2 weeks. Can you tell us something about yourself? “Sure. My name is Sanne Kaasjager. I was born in Utrecht, raised in Rotterdam and went back to Utrecht to study law. So there are two legs that I’m standing on: Utrecht and Rotterdam. After I graduated as an international lawyer in 1997, I did a traineeship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I was selected to become a diplomat. After “diplomacy class”, as they call it in the Dutch foreign service, it has been a meandering road up to where I am now. I started off at the UN department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague and then after that I was posted to Colombo, to work at the embassy in Sri Lanka, as a trade promotion officer and economic adviser.”

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What can you tell us about Sri Lanka? “I was posted there for 3 years and I really enjoyed it, because I was in contact with pioneering Dutch businesses, like Boskalis, Lagerwey and others. I felt like a fish in the water as I appreciate the ‘can-do’ mentality of Dutch businesses abroad. After Sri Lanka, I went to Geneva to do multilateral affairs again and worked at the permanent mission of the Netherlands to the UN. Then I went back to The Hague and became a lead negotiator in the climate negotiations, leading up to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. It was an extremely complicated process, with a lot at stake politically and economically, but that period really sparked my interest in the energy challenge of this century. Despite all the difficulties and the disappointing outcome of that summit, I saw governments, civil society and businesses opening their eyes to pursuing green growth. The beginnings of a belief that commercial benefit should be coupled with public responsibility. People, planet, profit. Nowadays, that insight has gained broad support and reached the board rooms of large multinationals. Feike


Sijbesma, CEO of DSM, followed the example set by Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, claiming that private sector should always combine profit with purpose. More and more customers want responsible enterpreneurship. Also in Poland, you see more pressure from society to solve public issues related to commercial growth, like addressing air pollution. Then I took a very different turn again when I became the deputy head of the Crisis Management and Peacekeeping Operations unit in the foreign ministry, where I prepared and advised decision-making on Dutch military operations, such as the evacuation operations during the Arab spring and the UN missions in Mali and South Sudan. After that very interesting period, I was appointed head of the Horn and West Africa Division at the Africa Department, basically managing our bilateral relations with countries in that region, dealing with a very broad portfolio, including economic development and trade promotion.” Can you tell us a little about your private situation? “My wife and I have 2 kids. My sons are 18 and 20 and ready for life, so they have left home. One is travelling around the world and having fun in Vietnam, and the other one is in Delft at the Technical University studying science. So for my wife and me, this transfer to Poland means a new life and new opportunities. After 11 years in bureaucracy, as a policy adviser and manager of a large team, I wanted to do something operational. I wanted to be out there again. I had wanted to become a diplomat when I applied for the job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so after more than 11 years of policy-making in The Hague, I’m very motivated to be practicing that profession again.” What is the reason you choose for Poland as a posting? “After I decided that I wanted to go abroad again, I realised that I wanted to do something operational, to connect people and interests, step outside the office, help companies capitalize on opportunities, mobilising partners, achieve tangible results. For me it was clear that I wanted to do economic and trade promotion work. The second question was, of course: what vacancies are open? And the third question: in which country do I want to be active? Then I saw this position and was immediately attracted. Poland is the 8th largest trading partner of the Netherlands. The Netherlands are Poland’s 6th largest trading partner. There is dynamic economic growth. For 26 years, Poland has experienced economic growth. Poland has “relevant” written all over it. An underlying reason for my interest in Poland is the fact that the country is in transition at various levels, from industrial economy to service-oriented economy, moving from high dependency on traditional energy sources to availability of renewable energy sources, rapidly developing infrastructure, a booming IT sector, which is even ahead of the Netherlands in some ways, if you’d ask me. I believe our two countries can help each other, with an important role for private sector, in coping with a rather unpredictable world and in realising responsible economic growth. And finally, I should of course mention some personal motives to come to Poland as well. The team I can work with is great. The embassy building is a spectacular working environment and meeting place for partners. Warsaw is a fantastic city. Poland is a beautiful country, with the advantage that it is relatively close to my family and friends in the Netherlands. And as an amateur historian, I also find the history of Poland very interesting. Last but not least, the Dutch and the Polish are no-nonsense ‘go-getters’, we think and communicate quite alike. So that provides a very good basis for my term here, because diplomacy is all about mindset and communication.”

What is your experience of Poland so far? “At the time of this interview, I have only been in Poland for 2 weeks. My first experiences have been very positive, I feel very much at home. It’s the country, the team, the opportunities that I sense here and the city of Warsaw itself that I’m really enjoying, even on my own, because my wife will be coming over later. I’m also enjoying the work itself and the scope of activities. It is much more concrete and specific. I have a feeling that together with the team at the embassy, we can really make a difference.” And what do you think about Warsaw? “I mentioned that I come from Rotterdam, a city with a ‘can-do’ mentality - a direct way of communicating and just doing things and getting your hands dirty. Also, Rotterdam is not about making things beautiful, it’s about taking action and getting results. So if I step outside the door right here, I feel like I’m in Rotterdam a little. And with the Poles, I have noticed that they respect distance, but I think that if you gain their trust and you get to know each other a little bit better, they are very friendly and committed partners and people.” Can you tell us something about the agenda you have here in Poland for the coming period? “Since this is my second week, I haven’t fully internalised our agenda yet, but we are quite busy now with the follow-up to the transport mission in November last year with Minister van Nieuwenhuizen. Secondly, there was the climate conference in Katowice and around that conference there were several events that the Dutch organised. So we also need to work on following those up and turning them into concrete results. That could be summarised under the umbrella of green growth. That, as I said, is very important to me, to the embassy and to the ambassador, but also our ministers in The Hague, because it falls under the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals, which are key for Minister Kaag, our minister of foreign trade and development. We want to raise awareness in Poland of such goals as offshore wind energy. Also e-mobility is something where we see added value for Dutch enterprises. Greening cities are another area we want to work on. As I said earlier, we’ve noticed that there is no longer an exclusive focus on profit, but also on purpose. In fact, talking to a big company in Poland that specialises in work force management and employee well-being, young Polish employees actually demand from their employers that their company should also have a public purpose or responsibility to respect. That is an indication, a strong signal, that we should work on this, making it a win-win situation for the company involved and society as a whole. I also shouldn’t forget to mention horticulture and agri-food as our priority, because the Netherlands is the secondlargest exporter of agricultural products, so you could say we are a world leader in that respect. This offers us a good starting position with Polish partners to see how we can support the horticulture and agri-food sectors in this country. Finally, our core business is of course providing solid and tailor-made advice to Dutch businesses. That maybe more “reactive” work, but not less important. That will always remain our challenge, to give the right advice and help those businesses to move forward and try to take away the obstacles they encounter in pursuing opportunities. Those are roughly the priorities for the coming year. It’s a full plate, but I’m really looking forward to making a difference. And with that, I should stop talking now and really get to work. ”

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News

from our members

Goyello becomes Aspire Systems Poland Ten months after Aspire Systems, an international IT corporation based in Chennai, acquired Goyello, the rebranding process of the Polish-Dutch IT company has now finished. From March 2018, it was operating under the name of Goyello. An Aspire Systems Company and now, from 16 January 2019, its name has changed to Aspire Systems Poland. Peter Horsten and Arie de Bruin, two Dutch businessmen, founded Goyello in 2006. Over the last 12 years, the company has developed a strong quality-oriented IT competence centre in Poland, a country renowned for its software development and business analysis experts. Today, it specialises in Agile software development and offers IT consulting and solutions to international clients. Headquartered in the Olivia Business Centre in Gdańsk, it also has an office in Koszalin, employing over 120 people in both locations.

Aspire Systems is a global technology services firm working with some of the world’s most innovative enterprises and independent software vendors, helping them leverage technology and outsourcing in Aspire’s specific areas of expertise. Aspire’s offerings include Product Engineering, Enterprise

Solutions, Independent Testing Services and IT Infrastructure & Application Support Services. The company currently has over 2,700 employees and 120 customers globally. The company has a growing presence in North America, Europe, Singapore, India and the Middle East.

Farm Frites celebrates 20th anniversary Farm Frites Poland celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special gala held in the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk on 12 September 2018. Almost 500 guests attended this wonderful event, with those present including representatives of the shareholders, local authorities, business partners and current and retired employees. During the first part of the event, representatives of Farm Frites Poland’s top-level management presented commemorative statuettes to McDonald’s, Havi Logistics distribution centres and many companies with whom FFP has been cooperating for the past 20 years. Commemorative statuettes were also given to 34 employees who have been working at FFP since 1994. The employees expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the President and CEO, Chris Lehmann-Baerenklau, who has managed the company for more than 20 years and is held in extremely high regard and affection by everyone there.

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Long-term rental as a long-term alternative to buying or leasing a car? Long-term leasing ceased to be a solution for bigger players some time ago. Currently, even for small enterprises whose fleet consists of just one car, it pays to finance the vehicle through long-term rental, which is no different to an operating lease but has the added value of vehicle servicing and maintenance. Advantages of long-term rental Comprehensive vehicle servicing is one of the biggest advantages of long-term rental. All obligations relating to operation of the vehicle are the responsibility of the rental company, which undertakes all activities connected with replacement of the tyres, assistance, claims settlement, insurance, registration, etc.

Long-term rental is a favourable alternative to leasing The way in which costs are settled is what mainly differentiates long-term rental from financial leasing. Financial leasing allows settling as an interest-deductible expense on the leasing instalment, depreciation write-offs and car operation costs, e.g. maintenance, fuel and insurance. The car is included in the lessee’s balance sheet. With long-term rental, however, the car is subject to depreciation on the side of the lessor, while the entrepreneur can deduct the entire periodic instalment incurred during the rental period. In addition, this tax-deductible cost can also include: • an initial payment (optional), • all handling fees, • commission, • and in the case of financial leasing, costs related to use.

This means that the business owner doesn’t have to worry about issues related to any necessary repairs, maintenance or insurance. Each of these activities is predicted before the contract is signed, calculated for the duration of the contract and included in the monthly fixed instalments for long-term rental. This solution gives the business owner a clear picture of the situation, and also security because the instalments are fixed and so the lessee isn’t taken by surprise by any additional costs. And also very importantly, the monthly instalments do not affect the lessee’s creditworthiness. In the event of a breakdown, a replacement vehicle is not only extremely convenient but it also prevents any unplanned downtime. Long-term rental offers a wide choice when it comes to deciding on the make, model and specification of the car, and the business owner also has freedom of choice at the end of the contract. They can buy the car outright, replace it with a newer model or cancel the rental altogether.

Disadvantages of financing a vehicle with your own funds or on credit A credit or purchase from your own funds is a method chosen more often by private individuals, although some business owners also decide on this form of financing a car, for example when they have surplus funds and want to use them for the purchase of a vehicle. As a result, their financial liquidity and creditworthiness decreases because the purchase is charged to the company’s balance sheet. In addition, obtaining credit is associated with time-consuming and detailed procedures. With long-term rental, all formalities are kept to a minimum, which makes the process run more efficiently, and it is less of a burden for the entrepreneur in terms of the interviews which are needed prior to the credit being granted. Taking into account all the advantages of long-term rental, it’s no surprise that this form of vehicle financing is becoming increasingly popular. Enterprises are slowly moving away from traditional leasing methods to a comprehensive and flexible rental service which is affordable to all. www.hitachicapital.pl

SPONSORED ARTICLE

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Column Staf Beems Entrepreneur and owner of Silesia Consulting

FRUIT LOGISTICA EXHIBITION IN BERLIN, 6-8 FEBRUARY 2019 Having been invited to this exhibition by some Dutch companies exhibiting there, I decided to travel to Berlin. I’d been to this exhibition before, but this time I didn’t only make time for my Dutch contacts but also to look at the international scale of the exhibition. And it was international, for sure, with more than 3,000 exhibitors from around the globe. In the catalogue - which was free of charge by the way - I read that 92 countries were present, with some having come from as far away as New Zealand, and others from Asia, Africa, the United States and Europe. The Netherlands was represented by 340 companies - 10% of the total! Poland was present with 47 companies. The exhibition occupied 29 halls so sturdy walking shoes were needed, and although logistics was an important topic, moving around from one hall to the next was not always easy. Why isn’t there an app which helps you to find the stand you are looking for in the right hall? There were plenty of places to relax and a wide choice of restaurants with fast service for reasonable prices, and with such quick service it was no problem to buy snacks and drinks. All in all, the German organisers deserve a lot of credit. There were even free buses to pick guests up from their hotels and drop them off at the hall. In the evening, those same buses were waiting at the hall to take you back. Taxis were also available but when I tried to book one from my hotel, the waiting time was more than half an hour. In the evening, there was often a wait of 30 minutes or so, but it was all so well-organised that people were patient. It is only to be hoped that the new airport in Berlin will be operational soon, as Tegel and Schönefeld are both airports from the past. Too small, and with not enough parking, they are not worthy of Berlin.When I think back to the Polagra fair in Poznań which I visited last year, it was easy to see why Polagra has lost its appeal. They have really missed the boat, and I have seldom been to a fair with so few exhibitors. What a pity for Poland. Back to the exhibition - part 1 The Dutch companies were very focused on the agri business and, being Dutch, I was proud to see what we, as a relatively small country, stand for. Do not forget that almost 10% of the exhibitors were Dutch companies. This may be a strange example but whenever there was a plane hijacking in the past, it always seemed that there was a Dutchman on board. Why? Because we were educated to think in an international way, and that means you have to travel. The Dutch companies were present at the fair exhibiting potatoes, onions, machinery for sowing and harvesting, and packaging machines. Water management was another big topic. It was a real feast for the eyes. The University of Wageningen also participated in various special conferences. Part 2 - the Polish presence Poland made a very professional impression. Apples were the most striking product but there were also other fruit and agri activities to be admired.

Being Dutch, and also having been active in Poland in the same business, it was nice to see how Polish companies have developed. I even came across one company which cooperates with 10 countries, some even in South America. Conclusion 1 Talking to the Dutch and Polish participants, I asked them about the results of being present at this kind of fair. Is an exhibition like this still needed when everything that people want to know is on the internet? They all told me that not being at this unique exhibition would be a huge mistake. First of all, you had the possibility to meet many customers and suppliers in just three days and, despite the internet, potential new customers and/or suppliers would visit you and allow you to make fruitful contacts. The costs of being in Berlin were high but well worth it. Furthermore, the fruit, agri and packaging industry always comes up with new inventions. And as one Dutchman entrusted to me, not being present at this exhibition would be much more expensive. Moreover, no matter if you are a visitor or an exhibitor, if you don’t see any new developments, that’s not a disappointment. The real disappointment comes when you see innovations which you were not aware of beforehand. Conclusion 2 Having been an expert for the Dutch volunteer organisation PUM, I also visited the stands of the three countries where I was active. Armenia, Burkina Faso and Vietnam were all present and highly professional and although I cannot claim that it was because of my projects, you could see that foreign help does pay off. Conclusion 3 We live in an open world where international cooperation is an absolute must. The Trump doctrine of America First is a utopian one. When you walk through the halls, you see the whole world; all the nationalities are present and very often in their traditional clothes. All colours want to meet the other colours and try to do business. This is good for the companies, but also good for the population of these faraway countries, and it’s good for smaller countries to be active further afield. Take the United Kingdom, for example. Present with less than 50 participants and yet dreaming of being a global power despite facing Brexit. It should be far more active - but the important question, of course, is with what? Fish and chips wrapped in a newspaper? Conclusion 4 The Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce is also - though admittedly on a smaller scale - a kind of permanent exhibition where Polish and Dutch entrepreneurs can meet and try to establish mutually beneficial cooperation. Despite the internet and social media - and I repeat this point - personal contacts will always be necessary. In other words, the Chamber still has a very important role to play. When I came back to Poland in 1992, LOT and KLM had just one flight a day from/to Holland. Nowadays, LOT and KLM fly three times a day, while KLM also flies to Gdańsk and Kraków and will add Wrocław as a new destination in the summer. Keep on supporting business contacts. Conclusion 5 Do not be too narrow-minded and claim that you have no time to attend exhibitions or visit „your market”. It is incomprehensible that we can still meet CEOs who claim that they have no time and/or that we can see companies fail when they try to enter a country. Poland is a good example here - where are Real, Ahold and Géant now? Final conclusion I was very happy that I visited the fair and I can only recommend that everyone should try to visit other important fairs whenever possible!

This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.

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Column Huub Droogh Huub Droogh is an urbanist and partner of RDH Urban in Poznań

Youth for climate… In its purest form, a strike is a beautiful instrument of solidarity. When people decide to go on strike, it is because they are suffering such great injustice that they want to make additional efforts to stop it. In ancient times, it was slaves, soldiers and later factory workers who used strikes as their last and ultimate weapon to stop inequity and improve their daily life conditions. Strikers often paid a high price for their courage. Starting a strike lead immediately to the loss of income, often resulting in hunger and losing their home or shelter. The slave owner, warlord or manufacturer would often use violence to break the resistance of those unwilling to work, and on several occasions strikers paid with their lives for their fight for justice. Employers don’t like strikes, and not only for the economic losses they cause. What is often more painful for them is the fact that it shows the outside world that they, as the ruling elite, are less in control than they pretend to be. A strike points out in an uncomfortable way the elite’s dependency on their subordinates. And besides being forced to show your dependency on those you want to rule over, there is also the moral issue… How strong is your case if someone feels so deeply hurt by you that they are willing to suffer hunger or starvation because of it? A strike in its purest form is the ultimate symbol of mutual human dependency, with the lower economic group as the moral winner.

This final bankruptcy has recently been proven by the so-called ‘yellow vests’, a group of people who seem to be more driven by a desire for violence and disorder than a clear aim to achieve something positive. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, a little Scandinavian schoolgirl appears. Probably completely unaware of the impact of her strategy, she has introduced all by herself a renaissance of the strike as the highest symbol of moral justice. ‘Youth for climate’ is a stronger movement than anything we have seen for decades. Children who refuse to take care of their own future due to the fact that their parents refuse to clean up the mess they have left behind. Never before has a whole generation been slapped so hard in the face, and never before has any argument against it been so powerless. In its purest form, a strike is the ultimate symbol of mutual human dependency, with the lowest group the moral winner and the responsible ‘adult elite’ shown up as powerless losers, often not even able to say sorry… An apology letter to future generations? Watch www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRLJscAlk1M

Over the years, the instrument of the strike has become professionalised. Workers organised themselves into trade unions, and via contributions collected the funds to be used during a strike. And as always when institutions take over, there is a smart group of people able to take over these aims in such way that it seems to serve their own position more. However, the instrument of the strike, with the support of strike funds, sometimes strengthened the workers’ position while at the same time undermining the strike’s moral superiority. Showing subsidiarity to the union manager isn’t always convincing. Having the trade union pay your lost salary may make your efforts for a better world more bearable, but for sure less heroic. For those situations in particular, strikes became primarily about building up a union’s ego rather than improving the workers’ interests. The development of a tradition of destruction and violence during strikes and blockades in countries such as France and Belgium, for instance, undermined what remained of the moral superiority of the suppressed. This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.

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New members of

the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

Damen Engineering Gdańsk Sp. z o.o. A member of the ‘Damen Family’, Damen Engineering Gdańsk is a Polandbased company responsible for providing the basic design for Damen vessels built all over the world. Developing designs: The growing team consists not only of naval architects and mechanical engineers but also electrical engineers. Their designs cover several Damen product groups, with a focus on larger offshore vessels. The team develops both existing Damen ship types as well as creating new designs. The work is carried out within teams related to the product group – supported by deck outfitting, stability and electrical specialists. Damen Engineering Gdańsk is responsible for transforming the initial design into a complete and practicable engineering package. The experienced engineering department is also involved during the production phase of each ship and provides any support as necessary. Damen Engineering Gdańsk Sp. z o.o. Al. Grunwaldzka 415 80-309 Gdańsk 603 220 241 www.damen.com

Dasko Dasko is a family-owned business that was established in 1913 by the grandfather of the current general manager, Bertus Dasselaar. The Dasko Group is now an international employer with more than 400 employees in 3 countries. With 180 transport combinations, Dasko is a reliable logistics provider and a trend-setting enterprise. Our services: Refrigerated transport - we are experts in transporting chilled and frozen products. Our drivers have a wide knowledge of food safety, cooling engines and the chilled transport of fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, frozen bakery goods and more. Meat transport - we use trailers specifically designed for transporting hanging meat. Our drivers are trained in this special work and we make sure that your products arrive at their destination properly. Intermodal transport – we use intermodal transport so that our trailers are also transported by rail. In 2020, we plan to open a warehouse for frozen products in Niepruszewo, near Poznań, which will have a storage capacity of over 12,000 pallets. Dasko Dasko Logistics Sp. z o.o. Cisowa 14 64-320 Buk Niepruszewo +48 61 224 69 00 www.dasko.com.pl

Frigo Logistics Frigo Logistics was established in 2001, and became part of the Japanese logistics company Nichirei Holding Holland B.V. in December 2004. A logistics operator for deep-frozen food goods, Frigo Logistics has a total cold storage capacity in Poland of around 40,000 pallets. The Frigo Logistics offer includes the full range of services connected with the supply chain: from the collection of goods from the producer, through storage, picking, repacking and labelling, to transport and delivery to the final receiver. We have three modern cold stores: one is located in Żnin, the second is located in Radomsko and the third in Błonie. In every warehouse, the temperatures in the freezer chambers are kept at a constant -18 degrees Celsius. We deliver to all major retailers, all central warehouses in Poland as well as to around 850 wholesalers country-wide, and also to some HoReCa sector points. We are currently the exclusive logistics operator for 6 large retailers in Poland. Frigo Logistics Fabryczna 4 88-400 Żnin kris.verbruggen@frigologistics.pl +48 52 303 36 00 www.frigologistics.pl

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NL in Business NLinBusiness is an initiative of the Confederation of Dutch Business (VNO-NCW & MKB-Nederland) in partnership with the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Economic Affairs, and in close cooperation with the employers’ federations FME, Evofenedex and Koninklijke Metaalunie. NLinBusiness was established to coordinate and organise accessible and longer-term programmes for Dutch small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who are aiming to expand their business internationally, in markets like Poland. We support Dutch SMEs to identify the right international market(s), build the required capabilities to be successful in Poland and secure a successful landing in Warsaw (one of our Cities of Opportunity). NLinBusiness builds consortia focused on impactful projects worldwide. In doing so, NLinBusiness works closely with the local Dutch-Polish business chamber (NPCC), public partners such as the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), the Dutch diplomatic mission and locally active Dutch entrepreneurs. Within NLinBusiness, the key liaison for Warsaw, our City of Opportunity, is International Business Manager Jeroen Haver. NL in Business Bezuidenhoutseweg 12 2594 AV The Hague +31 70 349 0220 www.nlinbusiness.com


New members of

the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

Belastingadviseur Doradca podatkowy Łukasz Trojnarski Dr. Łukasz Trojnarski is a tax adviser supporting foreigners active in Poland and also Poles working abroad. In cooperation with other advisers from the National Chamber of Tax Advisers, he provides the following services, among others, in Dutch, English, Russian, German and Polish: • Tax advisory – regarding both Polish and international tax law • Tax returns, declarations, registration of taxpayers, tax records • Bookkeeping: • maintaining the revenues and expenses ledgers • complete accounting • Withholding tax – compliance issues • Transfer pricing documentation • Representation before the tax authorities and courts • Customs clearance, import and export duties. Members of the National Chamber of Tax Advisers support their clients with regard to all issues connected with Polish and international tax law. Belastingadviseur Doradca podatkowy Łukasz Trojnarski Miastkowska 55E, 60-184 Poznań +48 693 279 016, trojnarski.13217@kidp.pl, www.taxinternational.eu

Duledo

Kancelaria Radców Prawnych Zygmunt Jerzmanowski i Wspólnicy sp. k. Zygmunt Jerzmanowski & Partners Law Firm is regarded as one of the largest law firms in the Wielkopolska region. We offer foreign entities services in the scope of: • setting up new entities in Poland in the optimal legal and organisational form • comprehensive, permanent or ad hoc legal advisory covering most legal fields • advisory on merger and acquisition processes (M&A), transformations and other similar transactions • drafting and negotiating business contracts • representation in court proceedings and arbitration • real estate transactions • taxes • public procurements • public-private partnerships • administrative procedures regarding the environment etc • clinical research. Kancelaria Radców Prawnych Zygmunt Jerzmanowski i Wspólnicy sp. k. Mickiewicza 14, 60-834 Poznań 61 852 12 78, www.jerzmanowski.pl

Holiday Inn

Established in 1994, Duledo is a distributor of special papers and foils used in the cutting room and design departments. Duledo has more than 5,000 customers and distributes 3,500 tonnes annually in Central Europe. Due to our reliability in terms of quality and swift delivery of ready stock, we have grown in our market niche to be the number one independent distributor in Europe. In Poland, we are absolutely the market leader. We issue over 12,000 invoices annually and ship from Aleksandrów Łódzki ca. 40-50 parcels and 10-16 pallets daily, and 2-3 full trucks monthly to our distributors in several European markets.

The Holiday Inn hotel is a place where many artistic directions come together, and where our guests can experience fully Warsaw’s cultural diversity. The joy of living in Warsaw is expressed here through art. The works of young contemporary Polish artists are showcased in different ways throughout the hotel. In the lobby, guests are surrounded by beautiful images showing the Polish joy of life captured by a number of renowned Warsaw photographers. The idea of “Living brightly” is the feeling that comes across from these shots of parks, cafes and street scenes. The hotel’s guest rooms also feature original local Warsaw art on the walls, with the beautiful and varied wallpaper designs the result of a competition for students from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

Duledo Piotrkowska 6c, 95-070 Aleksandrów Łódzki 42 712 17 40, www.duledo.pl

Holiday Inn Twarda 52, 00-831 Warsaw 22 257 66 99, www.ihg.com

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Dutch Urban Management course in Poznań takes flight As of November 2018, around 17 students are studying Urban Management at Collegium Da Vinci in Poznań. The idea to set up the course was initiated by Huub Droogh of RDH Urban after he found that current city authorities are not ready to deal with the challenges that Poland will face in the coming years. The past half-year on the Da Vinci course has gone very fast. How did everything come about? Huub Droogh: “RDH Urban has been active on the Polish market for about 10 years now, and we have done dozens of projects. In every project we try to make a difference, because in the end it is not only about earning money. Especially in our field of work, where there is a great focus on approaching each project individually, it makes sense to evaluate every few years not only your financial results but also your intellectual output. So, at a certain point, we went back over our output from the last 10 years on the Polish market in order to pinpoint the moments when we really made a difference. It made us aware that if you really want to make a change, you should think more fundamentally. We concluded that in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe, at least with regard to long-term city development, there is still a shortage of professional management skills in the government administrations. Also, having more professionally trained politicians, who are slightly more aware of the wider context of the world they are operating in, would help future generations considerably. In the upcoming 20 years, society will be shaken by topics like climate change, energy transition and social justice. In our opinion, a lot of private and public institutions are not ready for that. We are convinced that topics like energy transition, climate change and technical innovation are things that cities should be prepared for, and when we notice that some authorities are ignoring those issues, then it’s a serious problem for the future. It doesn’t make sense to take an assignment and work with a politician who, for political reasons, simply denies what future generations are genuinely concerned about. So that got us thinking that the place to start is at the base, with the youth. You should give people the proper skills, curiosity and analytical mindset to get

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involved in this area and try to help build the proper conditions. At the same time, this is a difficult long-term objective for a company like ours to achieve. It was a difficult decision for us as it requires a lot of effort, but we made the choice to include the training of people and connecting business, science and governance as part of our business activities and we started to search for partners open to such challenging cooperation.” What happened after you found Da Vinci and the Breda University of Applied Sciences were willing to support you? “Firstly, we wrote a curriculum for the course, which then went through the administrative procedures to receive accreditation. As a formal bachelor’s degree for 3.5 years, it should have a formal accreditation according to Polish and European law. Eventually, it was given accreditation after a year and a half, in a decision made under the former government. When Collegium Da Vinci called us a few months ago and declared that they wanted to start this academic year, we didn’t want to lose momentum so we decided to go for it even though there was only a very small group of students to start with.” And how does this translate to the course that you have created? “This is a very good moment in the development of Central and Eastern Europe to start this course. Not only for teaching young people, but also for using the course as a platform for people who have a lot to offer the younger generation, and bring them together within the context of our initiative. I really think it is our duty as this generation to hand over the best that we have to the youth. For myself especially, I’m 58 years old and I don’t know if my generation should be so proud of the world that we are handing over to the next generation. I think the least we can do is help this new generation with everything we have in the proper way.” What have you achieved so far with the course? “From the initial 7 students, we have more than doubled that number during the first few months to 17. The group grew in an organic way due to the positive feedback our students started to spread among their friends on social media. Our students have very diverse backgrounds, coming from different countries and different cultures. Within just 2 to 3 months they are already able to find the confidence


to express themselves in a language that is not their native one. We have people here with Muslim, Orthodox, Christian and Catholic backgrounds and we see that they have a mutual respect for each other. They listen to one another and show interest in each other. I think this is an important first achievement when preparing people to start their professional lives, so they can step into the world and accept that not everything will always be according to their own view. Collegium Da Vinci has the ambition to start every year with a large number of students. That’s very ambitious but if, in a few years’ time, we can put 30-50 well-educated urban managers onto the market in Central and Eastern Europe every year, we will certainly make a small difference.”

course, last year we also established, for instance, a Dutch platform for cooperation focusing on the transition of rural and urban areas. In Lithuania, supported by the Lithuanian national government, we agreed to establish cooperation between three Dutch universities and four Lithuanian ones within a complex area of development. Our focus is on longer-lasting projects with clients interested in making a difference. This has brought us a more interesting international perspective. Due to this more critical approach we may lose some traditional clients, but we have already gained some new ones, in particular from countries like Germany and the United States, where people operate more based on long-term strategies than short-term decision-making.”

Can you tell us more about the curriculum?

You mentioned previously that this course wouldn’t have been set up under the current government. Is that how you assess the current situation in Poland?

“The whole curriculum is based on practice. We start the first year by giving the students the proper skills, and then the knowledge will follow simultaneously. Very often in education they start pumping in knowledge first and then, at the end, they say, ‘Oh yeah, they also have to go to practice, so let’s do something about the skills.’ We do it completely the other way round. Everything on our course is directly linked with practice. Take urban analysis, for instance, where we give them a little bit of theory and then send them out onto the streets to make an analysis, come back and make a drawing, and if they cannot draw, we teach them how to make a drawing. So, in a very practical way, we try to let them follow the stream of their interest but also bring in what they need, instead of a strict theoretical curriculum only.” How has the group developed over the months? “Prior to the course, I had individual meetings with all the students and a lot of them explained to me that they were unsure about themselves and about the future. And what we notice now is that they show a lot of self-confidence in what they are doing. The fact that they can stand in front of their class in a vulnerable position, when they have made something that is not ready yet, and you start to question them and they are able to answer your questions in an open way. This openness is not so common in countries like Poland, especially making yourself vulnerable in front of other people and saying maybe I made a mistake – this is not often heard in a professional context.”

“Try to imagine dealing in your daily job with politicians who deny that climate change is real, just because it doesn’t suit them to undertake linked investments and so they can keep up short term attractive profile for their voters. It is difficult to have serious and balanced discussions with such clients over the long-term development of their municipality. This is not an exclusively Polish issue, by the way, but it occurs worldwide. Fortunately, there are also politicians who are more realistic and informed. But we are worried about the contrast and divisions which are becoming clearer and clearer in the country. The Poland of the countryside, the Poland of the cities and the Poland of East and West – we can see more and more confrontations instead of coalitions.” Do you hope that your project with the students will bring changes to this situation? “This is the first year of the course but when the students are a bit further down the line in their development, they can help with this. I’m convinced about that. The next step is that the students will go for internships. So we’re going to help them find placements in positions in companies and administrations that will help them to develop those qualities. After graduation, they will enter the labour market with a set of relevant qualifications, including building a dialogue. Of course, it is a marathon, and not a sprint. If you are a producer, you can come up with different, more sustainable packaging, or a different product, moving away from plastic, for instance. It would involve some preparation but over the next 20 years you would have a product that is sustainable. In our work, every 3 months when we start with a new client, we have to think: how far down the line is my client? And how can we help them to take a little step forward to make this world a little more livable and future-proof?” Is there anything you’d like to ask any companies in Poznań that are reading this article?

Students of the Urban Management course taking an active part in one of the classes

What happened to RDH Urban because it is difficult to believe that you make good money with the course? “The Urban Management course is just one of our activities. Sylwia Mikołajczak, one of the partners in our company, is responsible for directing the course, representing the Dean. She fits our contributions into the company’s other work. Connecting business, science and governance enlarges our partnerships and the subjects of our projects, and it is part of our core activities. Besides the Urban Management

“There is something I’d like to bring up for all members of the Chamber. We want our students to be able to travel, to have excursions and internships, and see as much as possible of what is going on in the world. Companies can help us with that by opening their doors for the students to come in and tell them in an open way what they are doing and how they are thinking. We also need some funding to take them on excursions to cities like Berlin, for instance, or to the Netherlands. Funds will be needed for travel expenses and hostels because a lot of the students cannot afford to pay for everything from their own pocket. If the Dutch business community in Poland could see some of our objectives as a common responsibility, that would be an enormous benefit for those students and I’d hope that some companies could help with that.”

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Contribution Embassy Bulletin NPCC Royal flowers in the Royal Castle In conjunction with companies from the flower sector, the agricultural section has been working on preparations for a rose exhibition in the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The exhibition will take place in late spring and it will showcase a wide variety of colours and roses. The exhibition aims to further strengthen increasing flower sales in Poland. Stimulated by its economic growth, Poland is currently the 5th biggest export destination for Dutch flower exports and this level is continuing to grow.

RailFreight Summit After the successful first RailFreight Summit in Wrocław (March 2018), the second edition of this important conference will take place in Gdańsk on 15-16 May 2019, organised by ProMedia Group B.V. and Nieuwsblad Transport. Gdańsk is a fast-growing hub connecting all modalities and many

global logistics chains. In addition to the conference, a number of interesting field visits will also be organised. The embassy is supporting this event. https://events.railfreight.com/upcoming-events/railfreight-summit-2019/

4 Design Days On 24 January, there was an embassy-supported discussion during the opening session of 4 Design Days in Katowice on the topic of “Architecture for People and the Earth”, with a number of speakers from the Netherlands. When asked about the major threats, the Ambassador, Ron J.P.M. van Dartel, advised the audience not to worry too much when looking at the most densely populated part of the Netherlands, where an area of 8,000 sq km is inhabited by 8 million people. Although this situation may be perceived as a threat, he said, the Dutch are looking for opportunities in it. In the Netherlands, there is a lot of investment in mobility, looking for new intelligent solutions for cities and investing in electric vehicles. The government of the Netherlands is very active in this process and it has set up, among other things, a working group headed by the prime minister which will look at potential investments in intelligent urban solutions, house construction, energy saving, mobility and the circular economy. The Ambassador stressed that the Netherlands wants to share its experience with foreign partners in all these areas.

model of circularity for a product at a very early design stage, and then the building is ready for future changes. The problem, he said, is that we don’t know what the future will look like, but we should bear in mind that all the elements that we add to our environment should give opportunities to future generations and not constrain them. Future generations need the chance to be able to change and adapt the created objects accordingly, and this is how the urban environment should develop. The fourth Dutch speaker, who represented the academic view of the urban planning challenges of the 21st century, was Alexander Wandl, from the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology. The key challenge he underlined was how to integrate the models and methods from the environmental sciences, geographic sciences and economic sciences with the methods of design and spatial planning.

Another Dutch speaker, Menno Rubbens from the Dutch company Cepezed Projects, represented the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects. He drew the audience’s attention to the Circular Architecture Manifesto which was created by architects in the Netherlands and contains five design principles that stimulate a different way of dealing with architecture and buildings. These principles are: 1. A circular business model is the starting point for circular architecture; 2. Nature is a source of inspiration and a textbook example of circularity; 3. A structure is adaptable and flexible throughout its life; 4. A building including its components is easy to (dis)assemble and construct; and 5. The building materials are of high quality, non-toxic and easily reusable. Pieter van Os from the Circo programme was the third speaker during the opening session. He underlined that it’s possible to implement a closed-loop

Trade mission of entrepreneurs from the Dutch Twente region to Rzeszów (15-17 April) In cooperation with stakeholders from the Dutch region of Twente, the Dutch Enterprise Agency, the Dutch Embassy in Warsaw, the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce and the City of Rzeszow, the City of Enschede is organising a trade and fact-finding mission. The mission will be led by the Mayor of Enschede, Mr. Onno van Veldhuizen, and will focus on identifying opportunities and finding business partners in Rzeszów and the surrounding area in the fields of creative technologies

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and ICT. In addition to presentations about developments and opportunities in Rzeszów and some field visits, B2B matchmaking sessions will also be offered to participating Dutch companies. The mission will also visit Kraków, where the Honorary Consul of the Netherlands, Mr. Patrick den Bult, will share with the mission participants his experiences on doing business in Poland.


In cooperation with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Ikea and Polityka Insight, the embassy organised the Climate Film Festival during COP24 in Katowice, December 7-9 2018 © Marcin Chruściel

Arts and Culture from the Netherlands Every year, there are around 120 events connected with the promotion of arts and culture from the Netherlands in Poland. They include film festivals, theatres, concerts and exhibitions - the Dutch presence is visible everywhere. Not to mention the many book translations, lectures, workshops and artists in residence, magazine articles and university activities. Culture and the arts from the Netherlands are welcomed and highly appreciated.

and an extensive and respected network in Poland. However, as far as our cultural presence and activities are concerned, closer cooperation with the Dutch business community in Poland would be very welcome.

Arts and heritage contributes to positive dialogue and gives the Netherlands increased visibility. It cultivates goodwill and understanding, and opens doors. Mutual trust between countries grows through cultural cooperation and cultural exchanges. It is an instrument for reaching specific groups of society and stimulates us to reflect on our values, norms and aesthetics.

Follow us on Facebook: nlembassy.pl

Therefore, we graciously invite businesses to partner with us on our cultural mission. Give us a call. We are here for you!

The key points of the Dutch international cultural policy framework for 20172020 are: a greater appreciation for the intrinsic and social significance of culture, a greater emphasis on the importance of exchange, networks and reciprocity, a cohesive and integral approach to other countries, an emphasis on the connecting role of culture and support for cultural diplomacy worldwide. Cultural diplomacy is a valuable tool for the embassy in achieving its policy goals. The embassy uses cultural activities to enhance the visibility and reputation of the Netherlands and we connect culture with official visits, economic diplomacy, and our democracy and human rights policy. We use cultural activities to support sustainable trade and investments, for instance through the promotion of creative industries and visitor programmes to the Netherlands. We pay great respect and attention to activities related to our common history, the common cultural heritage which connects Poland and the Netherlands. The memories of the Dutch Mennonites in the Żuławy region, the castle of Marianne van Oranje, the honeymoon of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard and, not to forget, the veterans who served under General Maczek and General Sosabowski, who are living examples of our common heritage. In cooperation with the representation of the Government of Flanders, the embassy also supports the activities of the Dutch language faculties in universities. Over 400 students are not only upcoming ‘ambassadors’ for the Netherlands, but they will also be indispensable for maintaining future economic, cultural and bilateral relations. Of course, we cannot do all this by ourselves. We are limited in terms of time and money, but we do have the support of our ministry, our honorary consuls in Gdańsk and Kraków, cultural organisations in the Netherlands

© Marie Hald, Denmark, The Girls from Malawa.

The European Press Prize (EPP) and the World Press Photo Foundation (WPPF) are partnering up in May 2019 to celebrate European written and visual journalism. As part of the EPP Awards ceremony, the WPPF will create an exhibition highlighting the European talents from its 6x6 Global Talent Program. This program aims to develop a new and more diverse visual representation of the world by highlighting the work of six under-recognized talents from each of the world’s six continents. The same day, the EPP will award journalists from all over Europe. This will all take place under the roof of the esteemed Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. In order to showcase the European talents during the EPP Awards Ceremony, they are looking for financial support. More information: www.worldpressphoto.org and www.europeanpressprize.com Get in touch: sanne@worldpressphoto.org

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NPCC Test Drive

Tesla Model S:

The power of a supercar We recently tested the Tesla Model S - a car which, just like my mobile phone, is powered by a lithium-ion battery. However, the batteries of the Tesla can hold about 7000 times the charge that my phone can. And as a result, it is really, really powerful. In fact, it has the power of a supercar but, as we all can see, it’s designed as a practical family car. If you take a look inside at the back seats, there is plenty of knee room, and the headroom is also just about ok. The floor in the back is flat which makes it easier for three passengers to fit in but, due to the batteries underneath, the floor is raised, which means the angle between your knees and your feet is pretty high.

So the car is packed full of gadgets, but it isn’t until you start driving it around that it really blows you away. The Model S that we tested around Warsaw and Wołomin reaches 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. It is so quick because it gets instant torque from the electric engine. Its quick start is very nice, but what is most useful in day-to-day traffic is the car’s overtaking ability. Especially when you are on Polish roads out of town and stuck behind someone who is only driving at 50. You can go from 50 to 80 in the blink of an eye. It’s so fast that it is nothing short of sensational. It makes you king of the road…. and you can just hurtle past other vehicles like you’re in a rocket. There can be no denying that this car’s performance is incredible. The only problem is that if you push it too much, you are going to drain the battery very quickly. It’s the same as with your mobile phone - when you run the 4g, data services and all your apps, it drains your charge. The Tesla’s range should be up to 350 km, but in the real world you’re looking at 200 to 250 km with fairly normal driving. Of course, you can top the batteries up but, as we all know, there are still not many charging stations in Poland today. You’ll generally be charging the car on the regular grid and getting a fully-charged battery will take 26 hours.

The luggage capacity in the car is very impressive. There is plenty of space and you can carry even more things when you fold down the back seats. Under the trunk is where the first electric motor is located that powers the rear wheels. There is another engine in the front with 260 hp, which is the same as you get from the 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine in a VW Golf Club Sport. And when you combine both engines together, you get 611 horsepower. That is… insane. If you want to own a Model S, you will have to pay anything between 320,000 and 650,000 PLN. When we look at the interior, it really is nice and it would definitely be good enough for a 200,000 PLN car. But the fit and finish don’t truly match the price. For instance, the Tesla uses the switch gear column shifter from the Mercedes A class and when you look at the design, it’s very minimalistic, though very nice. You control most of the functions of the car via a big screen, which is a large version of an iPad, where you can control, for instance, the suspension or the car’s sunroof. Furthermore, you also have full internet connectivity, with the possibility to browse websites and so on.

What we can’t complain about is the fact that by virtue of it not having a petrol or diesel engine, it is so quiet. At the same time, it is very heavy on account of its batteries. But because they are mounted low in the car, its centre of gravity means it doesn’t roll about in the corners. The steering is also sharp, but it doesn’t have much feel to it. But then, this wasn’t designed as a sports car; it just has the performance of one. After a long weekend of driving, we can thoroughly recommend going out and buying a Tesla Model S, if you have the budget for one and you are looking for an electric car, because there really is nothing else like it.

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