President Koert Dekker of Emil Frey Poland:
Growing local market for nearly new cars • NPCC becomes a part of NLinBusiness • Chapters Kraków and Szczecin are open
68 Autumn 2019
Bulletin Autumn 2019 4
Koert Dekker speaks about his passion for cars - “sometimes, when I am sick, I go out for a drive and then I feel better”
10 NEWS FROM OUR CHAMBER 12 INTERVIEW
Jasper Buter, Regional Chairman on newly opened NPCC chapter in Kraków
Koert Dekker about his passion for cars
Kasper Vencken, Regional Chairman on newly opened NPCC chapter in Szczecin
Edo Offerhaus, Managing Director of NLinBusiness on cooperation between NPCC and NL Business Hubs, a global network for Dutch businesses
20 INTERVIEW Jarosław Miziołek, CEO of Arcadis Poland,
speaks about the work that the company is currently involved in and the projects that are currently ongoing
NPCC becomes a part of NL Business Hubs
24 NEWS FROM THE EMBASSY 26 INTERVIEW
M aciej Lasoń, Head of Communications at Unilever Eastern Europe, shares his view on successful Orange Goes Green Seminar organized jointly by NPCC with partners
28 NEW MEMBERS 29 NPCC TEST DRIVE
Jeep Compass SUV - something of a mixed bag
30 ARTICLE FROM OUR PLATINUM SPONSOR Long-term rental is the best solution for entrepreneurs and not so expensive
31 COLUMN Remco van der Kroft
NPCC celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Orange Ball
Director’s note Dear Reader, I hope you had a wonderful holiday time with your family and friends. Holidays are always a moment to reflect on the past season and to develop some new thoughts and initiatives for the upcoming season, which we certainly did. During the summer, we were sorry to hear the sad news of the sudden passing of Arno Boekestijn, from our member Boekestijn Transport in the Poznań region. You will find a short ‘in memoriam’ in tribute to him later in this issue of Bulletin. Our board and team in the office wish to offer his family and close friends our sincerest condolences for their loss. Here at the chamber we took some time during the summer to reflect on our strategy for what we can offer our members. The discussions are still ongoing, but I expect to be able to share more on our plans in the upcoming issues of Bulletin and at future Business Drinks.
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 Zadrożna Columnists: Huub Droogh Staf Beems Remco van der Kroft Photos: Elro van den Burg Anna Zadrożna Milena Zychowicz Netherlands Embassy in Poland Advertisement management: NPCC Contact: www.nlchamber.com.pl firstname.lastname@example.org +48 22 419 54 44
Our main event in September is our flagship event, the Orange Ball, which we are organising for the 10th time. Together with Anna, Milena and the Orange Ball team consisting of Eric Drukker, Eric van Vliet, Peter Stolker, Martien Brink and Timea Balajcza, we have been working around the clock to deliver an exciting event. We have chosen the Intercontinental Hotel for the location and we have prepared a number of new attractions for the 300 or so guests that will be attending. I am sure that it will be a truly spectacular networking event to kick off the new season. A week later, we have a Transport Seminar which is taking place at the premises of Clip Group in Swarzędz. We anticipate that around 200 guests from the transport sector will be in attendance, and there will also be the opportunity to meet representatives of around 15 companies from the port of Rotterdam who are coming to Poland especially for this event. If you haven’t yet applied and are still interested in doing so, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. Another milestone for the chamber is that we have now joined the NLinBusiness platform. In this issue of Bulletin there is an interview with the platform’s managing director, Edo Offerhaus, who talks about cooperation with the organisation and how you, as members, will benefit from it. During the summer, we said farewell to our board member Danielle van den Broek from Unilever, who moved with her family to the UK. We thank Danielle for her input during our meetings and for initiating the event on SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which we organised for our members in June at the Unilever premises. We will keep carrying the torch and we plan to continue the event next year on this important topic. Within our team, we also said farewell to Gabriela Cholewicka, who has left to take up new endeavours. We thank Gabriela for her support in our commercial department and we wish her all the best for the future. Looking ahead to the upcoming season, again we have a full half-year calendar. We are excited to organise so many events and help companies to accelerate their business in Poland, which is for the benefit of everyone in our network. I look forward to meeting you at our many events! Are we getting it right? Let me know at email@example.com Elro van den Burg Managing Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
OUR PLATINUM SPONSORS
Activities of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce 21 September 2019
Orange Ball 2019
Location: Warsaw, InterContinental Hotel Emilii Plater 49 Time: 18.00 - 2.00
26 September 2019
Opening the NPCC chapter in Szczecin Location: Szczecin More info will be announced via our website
5 November 2019
Location: Poznań, Clip Group Rabowicka 6, Swarzęd
9 October 2019
Location: Warsaw, Warsaw Marriott Hotel Al. Jerozolimskie 65/79
10 December 2019
CEO Business Breakfast with IGCC
Seminar on BPO Centres Location: Łódź More info will be announced via our website
Christmas Business Mixer Location: Poznań More info will be announced via our website
Location: Sopot More info will be announced via our website
Christmas Business Drink Location: Warsaw, InterContinental Hotel Emilii Plater 49 Time: 18.30 - 21.00
Location: Warsaw, Puro Hotel Widok 9 Time: 18.30 - 21.00
23 October 2019
Speed Business Mixer with IGCC
Sinterklaas Location: Wrocław More info will be announced via our website
Please follow our NPCC website: www.nlchamber.com.pl for an updated calendar issue 68
„Petrol is running through my veins” When we sat down with Koert Dekker, President of Emil Frey Polska (formerly PGA Polska), we had to keep an eye on the clock because when we started to talk about cars… If we took a thermometer and measured your company’s temperature, what would it be like? Koert Dekker: “The temperature in our company is good. We are a strong company and there is a lot going on. We are active in 12 locations right now, we have 6 brands, over 900 people, and we are showing significant growth figures each year. Of course, it depends on the brand but the company as a whole is growing on average by 12%. And we are not done yet! So we are extremely busy. Naturally, every company has its ups and downs, us included, but we are pleased with the development of the company.”
So why are things going so well for Emil Frey? “When we started our activities in Poland, we used our experience gained in other European countries, combined with the local expertise. It was not an easy start though, but because of the synergy of good local managers combined with our heritage and knowledge of our foreign activities, we are successful. So the key to our success is good management and the right timing to start in a developing automotive market. The other reason why it is going so well is because of Poland’s overall economic performance. Over the last 25 years, the economy has just grown and grown and grown. Our consumers are both companies and individual costumers and, if you look at the last few years, every year they have more money to spend. A car is a very expensive purchase, almost like a house. In terms of a company’s or private investments, it is the second largest purchase. And we can see that in Poland, compared to other European countries, the automotive market is still growing. In other countries, it is a stable or slowly declining market, but the market in Poland is definitely not done yet.”
You mentioned that you used the knowledge from other nearby countries and applied it here in Poland. You also said that you brought in knowledge from people who had worked in other regions. Where are you now? Do you still work with those foreigners who were here at the beginning? “Right now, I am the only person here who’s not from Poland. So that’s a big difference to the beginning. That’s also our call – we want to have local management in the local markets. We also invest a lot in our staff. Our Polish employees develop themselves and they do that in our own way. We have for example our own talent programme so we really encourage everybody, from mechanic to managing director, to continue to develop themselves. And if they do, they can make a good career for themselves in our company. That’s why we have a lot of people who have already been here for a number of years and they are growing along with the company.” The first requirement if you want to work here is that you should love cars, am I right? “Haha, that helps. If you work in controlling, or you clean the office, maybe it’s not required but even for them it helps, because the only thing we do – it’s cars.” What else can you tell us about the company? “We really can help everybody with their mobility demands due to the broad range of products and services that we offer. We have knowledge of everything. We sell 6 brands of new cars. So, if you need an affordable car or you want the best luxury car, if you want to have a delivery car, a van, or a pickup, whether economical or expensive, small or large – we sell everything. Then we have many financial solutions. There is no situation that we can’t find the solution for financing either 1 car or 100 cars. And also for the insurance. Then maintenance – we maintain every brand and most of our locations work in 2 or 3 shifts, so there is maintenance and servicing going on from early in the morning till late in the evening. What’s more, we also have used cars. In every location we have a wide choice of used cars and they all have body and paint departments, which means that if you have a collision or minor damage to any make of car, we can help you throughout our network. All our departments have specialist knowledge so if you want to know something about electric cars, or e-mobility, our people are already trained for the future – how and where to charge electric cars, and how to maintain them. Of course, cars are changing. They are made from different and lighter materials. But we have all that knowledge about financing, leasing, including or excluding maintenance and service, body and paint – it’s all there. And that’s in 12 locations for 6 brands. I am proud of our people. We really invest a lot in training them. The customer should always feel good when they enter our locations. Whether it’s a premium brand or a volume brand, and at any location. I always use this example: if somebody is lost, whose GPS is not working anymore, and he comes inside one of our showrooms, our employees should help them so much that when they return to their car, they will say, ‘Wow, what service! When I buy a new car, I will go back there.’ And that’s our approach at every location, with every brand – the customer should always feel welcome.” You mentioned your staff – what are you doing to keep people in the current market? “Training is important, and we see that this is a big difference among other companies. However, it’s not enough. You probably already
know this, but the salary is not the most important thing. That’s point number 7 for the employees. One of the more important elements is the atmosphere. We spend more time at work than at home, so we really work hard on creating a good atmosphere in our company. Secondly, it’s important to give responsibility to employees at every level, so that they can feel that they are making a difference. It’s not important if it’s just cleaning the car, or if it’s the sales manager, or a director in charge of a whole group of people. Everyone should be able to see in their position that, firstly, we respect them and, secondly, they matter. It’s not just a job. No, they work for Emil Frey – and that really makes a difference. The benefits are good. We offer e-learning and it’s free. Every employee can go online and do training courses, for example in English. We also offer our employees the real possibility to make a career in our company. So it’s possible to start off here as a junior mechanic, for example, and end up as the managing director. We also organise family picnics so that our employees’ families can see who we are and what we do, and this helps to strengthen the bond with our employees.” The name of the holding group also changed this year from PGA Polska to Emil Frey Polska. Why was that? “The name PGA came from our former shareholder Porsche Holding Salzburg. Two years ago, the Porsche family sold that company to a Swiss family, a dealer holding called Emil Frey. In Poland, Emil Frey was already established – it was a smaller company that imported the Subaru brand. From this year, 2019, all countries have adopted the name of the Emil Frey motor company, so we are Emil Frey Polska as a holding and all 12 locations are part of the Emil Frey Group. Of course, we will keep the names Bawaria Motors, MB Motors, Lion Motors, Bohemia Motors – those names are not changing. But we noticed that the name Emil Frey says more to our suppliers and customers than PGA did. I think one argument is the human factor – Emil Frey is a family name so it’s more personal. And PGA is 3 letters, which nobody knows what they stand for. This was a big change so now we are part of this large European group.” And are you going to use this name as a brand for clients as well, or just internally? “Our locations, our dealerships, will keep their current names. We won’t change that. But we will use the brand Emil Frey Select in Poland as a brand for used cars. One of the growth areas we see in the market is for young used cars and that really is a new market for Poland. We have been doing this for years now successfully. This year, we introduced our own brand of Emil Frey Select in Piaseczno and probably at the end of the year we will have another location as well. And next year in another 4 or 5 locations. So yes, we will certainly be using this name externally as well. When we look at the used car market, it is only just starting in Poland. And I am not referring here to the millions of cars imported from other European countries which, on average, are 11 years old. As the economy is growing, there is almost nobody without a job in Poland, and as a result salaries are increasing, just like everything. That’s also why we are selling more and more new cars. But people who don’t want to buy a new car, or perhaps don’t have the money to buy one, are also changing their buying behaviour. They don’t want to buy a 15-year-old used car from somewhere in Europe anymore, but they want to have a two or three-year-old one that was originally registered in Poland. So they want a real used car from Poland, and that group is growing significantly. We expect this number to double in size every year over the coming 5 years.”
We know that the government is always trying to introduce some new safety regulations for cars. Ideally, they want to get older cars off the road. “Exactly. This is precisely why we expect this growth. A 3-year-old car will fulfil all those requirements, but a 10 or 15-year-old car will not. So all those new regulations will help to increase the demand for young used cars.” How do you promote this in your dealerships? Have you created new sales points for that? “We are using our existing locations to sell used cars. They all have a used car department and we plan to expand them in the future. And in locations and cities where we think we should have a separate used car activity, we will invest in new locations.” You’ve discussed used cars but how is the market for new cars? “This year is a little slower than we have been used to over the last 10 years. But still it is different from our operations in other countries because in Poland we still speak about growth. In most other countries, sales are declining. In our group, some brands have had certain difficulties but our premium brands are still growing fast and volume brands are doing well, though showing lower growth.” Why is there a decline in that part of the market? “If you look globally or European-wide, the usage of cars is changing. This is especially visible in the younger generations. Ownership is not so important anymore and nor is status – your car does not automatically show your level of wealth. At least not so much anymore. Newer generations are using their cars in a totally different way and, on top of that, governments are encouraging the use of public transport, or car-sharing, and we can slowly see the impact of this on the number of new cars being sold.” Is Poland following that trend at the same pace as the international trend? “Yes. You can see in Warsaw these new electric scooters, bikes and electric cars and some car share programmes. A lot of companies here in Poland are already investing in that. On the other hand, owning a car is still very important in Poland. I was surprised when I started to work here and in the first few weeks, I rented a temporary apartment. The building itself was nothing special, but when I entered the parking garage, I only saw expensive cars. And I thought: this is strange. This is an average apartment, but the cars are far from average. So then I knew that for a lot of Polish people a car is almost more important than their house. That is also a cultural thing. So in Poland you cannot simply say that there is a slowdown in sales because they don’t love cars anymore. In Poland, they still think the car is important. We can see that people buy more luxury cars here than in other European countries. They like big cars, while in other European countries vehicles are tending to get smaller and smaller. There is still a big difference between the Polish automotive market and the rest of Europe.” Car sales tend to give an early signal about how the economy is doing in general. Do you also think the car figures we are currently seeing are a gauge to what we can expect in the economy as a whole? “I am not sure about that because the current figures are also influenced by the political situation. We have also had the introduction
of recent tax rules which has meant that investment in cars has become less attractive for companies than last year. That’s one of the reasons why the growth is smaller. The other reason is that people are waiting to see what will happen. In Poland, around 70% of new car purchases are done by companies, which is the main customer group for us. And if companies have to pay more tax, or they can’t deduct the costs anymore, then they start buying older cars, or fewer cars, or they wait longer to replace them. In this election year, people are being more careful and this has definitely had an impact on our sales.” What is your own passion, besides cars? “Cars are the only passion I have. I have petrol running through my veins… I don’t have blood anymore, it’s pure petrol. It all started when I was 14 years old and I had the possibility to drive a rally car. That changed my whole life. From that moment on, I have really loved cars – starting with learning to drive, then how to race a car, then how to become successful in the car industry. My work is my hobby. Some people ask me why I am still in the automotive industry. And it’s true if you look at our industry that it’s not an easy market. Being in the automotive industry is hard work. It means working your butt off for just a little bit of profit. Although there is a lot of money floating around this business, the size of the profit, if you compare it with computers, clothes, vegetables or whatever, is very low. So you have to be a little crazy to work in this sector, but I definitely caught the bug so I spend a lot of time every day educating myself and finding as much information about cars as I can. And I love it.” And what is it that you want to know about cars? Is it the new technical details or something else? “What I like is the design of cars, both externally and internally. And because of that, I am also interested in the technology. I am not really into Formula 1, but normal cars, for example the cars that we have here in Bawaria Motors. I can tell you precisely the differences between one engine and another. If you give me any make, I can tell you what options are available for that particular car.” How far does this knowledge about cars go back? “I can tell you which engines stood out in which cars, and which did not. And also the reasons why. I love to drive. When I’m sick, I go out for a drive and then I feel better. Sometimes our employees are surprised that I know so much. And sometimes our suppliers are surprised too. If I have meetings, then always before or after the meeting, I start to talk about cars. My baby at home is my Porsche, which is my dream car. And when I find some free time, I drive my Porsche in the mountains.” What kind of Porsche do you have? “It’s the newest 718, with a mid-engine, which means that it’s perfectly balanced due to the engine’s position. And it also has additional torque vectoring, so even when you drive really fast through the corners, the car can handle it. I have driven many Porsches, and many other makes, but this car is amazing. It fits me like a glove. First, when you start the engine – it’s the sound. I spend half of my time in America, and when I’m in Europe and then I go back, I say to the passengers in my car, “Shhhhhh, please be silent”. Because in America they still have big engines. And I love the sound of their engines. That’s the only thing I don’t like about electric cars. I recently drove a brandnew Mercedes and I must admit that it’s a beautiful car – it drives like a Mercedes, the quality is great, it feels good and it’s fast – but you just don’t hear anything!”
news and events
Dutch Design Day with BM Housing On Tuesday 21 May, fans of Dutch industrial design were able to meet and enjoy Dutch Design Day at the Alphenberg showroom. The invited architects, journalists and some of our Dutch friends had the opportunity to find out more about a new brand in the portfolio of BM Housing, a distributor of interior design brands from the Netherlands. The event was held under the patronage of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Warsaw and it was attended by, among others, the Dutch Ambassador to Poland, Mr. Ron J.P.M. van Dartel.
A.I. Seminar with Comparex
On 4 June, we had the chance to be part of and support a seminar on Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). The event, which was coorganised with the British-Polish Chamber of Commerce, Comparex Poland, KPMG Poland and specialists from IBM Polska, showed us how A.I. is not something that will just happen in the distant future – it is happening now. We simply don’t realise how much A.I. is currently being used in our everyday activities. A good example are the facial recognition systems on social media, but there is also the process of changing voice into text or the new kind of shops known as “Take & Go” which have no checkout operators or even checkouts. Is it possible that in the future people will not even be needed to create A.I.? Will robots create robots? Time will tell…
Business Drink with Déhora Consultancy Group On Tuesday 11 June, we had the pleasure to organise our last Business Drink before the summer break. The event, which was sponsored by Déhora Consultancy Group, was held at the Holiday Inn in Warsaw and it gave participants an excellent opportunity to network over some drinks and food from a barbecue.
The event opened on the outside terrace with a short presentation by Hubert Kowalski from Déhora and afterwards the members were able to network and enjoy the barbecue. We would like to thank Déhora Consultancy Group for sponsoring this event.
news and events
Successful Employer Branding Seminar in the Wielkopolska region We held a seminar on employer branding at the premises of Inter-Car in Suchy Las, in conjunction with Randstad Poland and the bilateral chambers of Germany, Belgium, France and Scandinavia. During this meeting on 10 June, we discussed the results of the employer brand research conducted recently by Randstad, as well as the ranking of the top 10 reasons to choose an employer. The seminar, which attracted around 40 participants, included lively group
discussions on the topic of labour shortages, the size of the problem and what employers can do to attract talent. Those employers present in the audience confirmed these staff shortages, but they also mentioned their own concerns about the economy and the continuous rise in salaries. Randstad were very complimentary about the debate and the discussions in the room. After the seminar, Martien Brink and his team from Inter-Car provided the guests with a superb Asian dinner, with a selection
of excellent wines, draft white beer from Belgian’s Best and fresh handmade orange juice. There was also time for the participants to mingle and discuss various issues of interest, enabling many of them to make valuable new contacts as they discussed the latest business trends. Thank you to our sponsor Inter-Car for the work and energy they put in to this event. It was an excellent opportunity to mix business with pleasure, and an occasion not to be missed!
In Memoriam Arno Boekestijn 20/07/1965 – 20/07/2019 On Saturday July 20, 2019, at the age of 54, Arno Boekestijn passed away just a matter of weeks before the company’s 25th anniversary. Together with his wife and brother, Peter, Arno Boekestijn was the founder and owner of Boekestijn Transport Services. What started out as a small transport company with three trucks grew into an international operation running a fleet of more than 350 trucks. In 1999, Boekestijn opened an office in Poland which, by 2015, had developed into a large facility for warehousing and cross docking in Gadki, near Poznań.
In 2009, another subsidiary followed in Chisinau, Moldova, where Boekestijn also established a drivers’ academy. In 2007, Boekestijn acquired the company R&W Fashion Transport, which specialised in transporting garments from the Balkans. Arno Boekestijn was a prominent member of the Dutch community in Poland and in Poznań in particular. He was a keen supporter of our chamber and attended many events. In 2016, Boekestijn Transport was a finalist for the Dutch-Polish Business Award. In April this year, Arno was a forum member in a plenary session during the Polish-Dutch Business Forum.
New NPCC Chapter Kraków is the heart of start-ups in Poland
One of the two chapters that the NPCC has opened in Poland is in Kraków. Jasper Buter is our new chairman in that region and Bulletin talked to him. Can you tell us a little about your background? Jasper Buter: “In the Netherlands, I started my career in BNR news radio, and after that I co-founded my own company, Mailmedia, which is the leader in e-mail marketing in the Netherlands. I sold my shares to the Online Marketing Group in 2009 and then in Poland I started Dialogix, which is an e-mail and social marketing company with a client portfolio including, amongst others, PKO, BMW and PZU. In 2017, I decided to sell my data and client portfolio. Afterwards I sold my shares to my business partner.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the Dutch community in Kraków? How big is it and what kind of companies can you find there? “I tried to use my experience in social media to get a good view of the Dutch community in Kraków. There are around 120 people active in different Facebook groups here, with 95% of them working for BPO companies like Shell and Capgemini. We have also located around 20 Dutch entrepreneurs working in such diverse sectors as translations, auditing, tailor-made furniture, law, cycling guides, the production of vitamin drinks, and so on.” I see that there is a wide range of professions in Kraków. Does that make it not so easy to set up a local community and do business together?
It was my expectation that with RODO coming to Poland, e-mail marketing would not be as interesting as it used to be. After Dialogix, I started Des Group BV, a network of Polish engineering and construction companies offering solutions focusing on the Dutch market. Part of my current work involves cooperation with a company called The Software House, which is a programming company from Poland. DES Group is currently helping them to set up an office in the Netherlands.
“It is a bit different than Warsaw, where I used to be active for over 10 years. Most of the Dutch people come to Kraków to work for Business Process Outsourcing companies (BPOs), where they can make use of their native language, rather than starting their own business. There are some exceptions like Bidroom that was set up by two Dutch guys and obviously they are also a member of the NPCC.”
I am also searching for interesting start-ups in Poland for different Dutch venture capital companies. This is actually also the reason why I moved to Kraków, because it is the heart of start-ups in Poland, and there is a lot of knowledge here, especially in the Technology sector.”
“The first thing that I would like to point out is that I would like to stay away from setting up social events such as Sinterklaas and Koningsdag, which is for other dedicated networking groups. However, I will try to get more information about the business activities of other chambers in the region. I will also try to increase my network in various hubs that are operating to support (foreign) companies in this region.
Why is Kraków so interesting for start-ups? What is happening there? “The community here is well-established and quite professional. There are a lot of accelerator programmes as well as many opportunities for start-ups to get financing from governmental subsidiaries or European funds. We see many start-up hubs here and there are many communities to meet, which helps the sector to grow.”
What are you going to do for us as the local chairman in Kraków?
With that in mind, I want to gain knowledge about this region and the opportunities that it offers so that we have the latest information on the local market in Kraków What is more, there are many companies in this region who are willing to do business with the Netherlands, so I will reach out to these companies to see if they are interested in becoming a member so that we can also help them in the Netherlands.”
New NPCC Chapter
Szczecin is the 5th largest city for foreign investment in Poland One of the two new chapters that the NPCC has opened up in Poland is in Szczecin. Kasper Vencken is our new chairman in that region and Bulletin talked to him. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Kasper Vencken: “Yes, of course. I’ve been living in Poland for 20 years now, in the region of Poznań, where I also used to be a board member of the Netherlands-Polish Business Club Wielkopolska, which is now the regional chapter of the NPCC. I have held three management positions in Poland, and I’m currently very active in my work in the region of Szczecin where we are developing real estate. This is a housing area near a beautiful lake, so I’m in Szczecin very often.” Can you tell us a bit more about your previous management experience and the companies it was with? “The first job I had was in the management of a paper production facility with German capital from a German family. After 8 years, I switched to a Dutch company and started working in the area of window fashion, producing roller blinds in the town of Śrem. Polish Assembly Centre was a company owned by the B&C Group from the Netherlands and I currently work for the same owners, although now I work on real estate investments for them in a company called Bergpol Investment.” What is your background in the Netherlands, in terms of your education? “I studied Economics (HEAO) with a focus on marketing, which was a very good foundation for doing business in Poland.” How would you describe your 20 years in Poland, business-wise? “Dynamic, I would say. When people ask me why I like living and working in Poland, I always say that the highs are very high, but the lows are very low. It is a very dynamic environment but it is not as well-established here yet as it is in the Netherlands, which makes it a very interesting and attractive working environment.”
You were a board member of the organisation which preceded the chamber in Poznań. Can you tell us a little more about that time? “Yes, it was just before the Poznań chamber became part of the NPCC. I remember this as a very interesting time because I met a lot of people and got a lot of information about what is happening in Poland and other countries. And also, it’s fun to meet other Dutch companies and talk about dayto-day business and day-to-day news. For me, it was a very good combination of business and pleasure.” Getting back to your current situation now, are you working in the Szczecin region? “Yes, we are developing houses in a place called Stargard, which is about a 30-minute drive from Szczecin, so I’ve been getting to know the city of Szczecin for the last year or so.” What can you tell us about the Dutch community in the region? “The first impression I have is that it’s hardly visible at all. In fact, it’s almost like a black spot on the map of Poland. On the other hand, the statistics about foreign investment in Poland show that Szczecin is in 5th place, with 1,643 companies with foreign capital present in the city. The figures are not more detailed than that, however, so I still have to dig a little deeper to learn about Dutch capital in this area.” So can we assume that you will be the eyes and ears for us whenever somebody needs information on what is going on there? You will be able to provide the right information or direct us to the right person? “Exactly, I think the role of the chamber is to connect people and provide information. Furthermore, it is important to connect people locally but also to align with the structure that already exists in Poland. I want to help and connect companies not only with each other, but also with local governments and companies around Poland who have an interest in the Netherlands.”
Column Staf Beems Entrepreneur and owner of Silesia Consulting
POLAND (NOT YET) LOST I am sitting on my terrace, still reflecting on the events of the past week. Today is Sunday August 26th and we have just experienced a week unlike any other in Poland. It started with a fatal accident involving 2 geologists who died in a cave. That was followed by the scandal in the PiS government with the publication of information about actions by members of the Ministry of Justice, which may or may not have been approved by the Minister himself. And it ended with a lightning strike in the mountains where 4 people died and many others injured. I know Poland is a country of extremes, where the impossible still seems possible! One example of this is the Smolensk plane crash. As far as I can remember, such an accident – where so many important politicians and army leaders died at the same time – was unprecedented. After Smolensk, I thought that it was part of the history of the country. Is there any other country in the world that has experienced so many border changes which have left such deep wounds in the psyche of the Polish people. Smolensk was a result of the history of Katyń, and the assassination of many officers from the Polish army, which is another issue where the wounds have still not been healed. You may ask yourself if it will ever come to an end, or is this just Poland’s fate? Poland is possibly the only country in the world where politicians change from one party to the next as if they are going shopping and moving from one supermarket to the next because of… what? Money, power or maybe they don’t even know themselves? Examples abound but I don’t want to overload you with them all, so in order to back up my observation, I would simply point you to Leszek Miller, Radosław Sikorski or Jarosław Gowin. I sometimes use another word for politicians: they are PPs (Political Prostitutes) – they don’t care who they do it with, all that’s important is their (financial) result or image. To return to Smolensk, on that Saturday I was in Holland with some Polish friends. When we heard the news, they were naturally baffled. How could it happen that there were so many government officials on one plane? And why had they gone to Smolensk when the memorial service had already taken place? But one of my friends predicted – and this later proved to be true – that this would be the start of the PiS religion. PiS (read Jarosław Kaczyński) is still using the accident as if it happened yesterday. To compare it with another air crash – the MH17 which crashed above Ukraine with so many Dutch people on board had a huge impact, but the way that this Polish government continuously puts Smolensk on the agenda, or better to say in the news, is, in my opinion, unique throughout the world. I was planning to write this column about the upcoming autumn elections in Poland but I was delayed due to other obligations. Therefore, I will discuss
instead what happened in week 34 of 2019. In the polls, PiS lost some support and certain other parties increased their shares, but will that continue? To be honest, I don’t know. PiS has its powerbase not in the cities but in the countryside and they know much better – compared to the opposition – how to please their voters as they know their own electorate. The opposition is an opposition in itself and they excel at not presenting a strong programme to tempt floating voters over to their side! Almost no attention is given to road accidents – where are the police to stop speeding and dangerous drivers? And why is there no plan to stop drunk people getting behind the wheel? Do they have any plan for healthcare? They can’t have seen the TV series Moja Polska (see my column in the last magazine) which would have opened their eyes. PiS did not need to watch it as they already know how to serve their voters. Why did PO (Donald Tusk) forget to introduce a children’s allowance. They are now busy with themselves and dreaming about issues like gender, climate change and all those other issues which the PiS voters have no interest in whatsoever. They are happy with their PLN 500 per child. Furthermore, they have the support of the Catholic church, despite the scandals in the church which seem to have touched almost every child in one way or another. Another example is the departure of the president of Parliament, Mr. Marek Kuchciński, a very prominent PiS member. He used a government plane for private purposes and what do we see? 19% of PiS voters are not happy about it, while 91% of opposition voters feel strongly about the issue, but for how long? In the past, party leaders have always had the same privileges, sometimes even more. In other words, nothing has changed in their experience and consequently voters lose interest in politics in general. And that – to be correct in my observation – is something that’s happening all around the world. The new politics is the politics of fake news, lies, accusations, gossip and denials. Enough! Let us not use too many words about the past but instead let’s look to the future. I worked some years ago in Vietnam. It could be compared in some ways with Poland – a divided, ex-communist country, sometimes lacking in self-confidence. I was providing consultancy services for a company which wanted to export rice. However, there was a negative image surrounding that idea due to concerns that all the American bombing may have affected the soil and maybe that was the reason why potential buyers were not willing to buy rice from Vietnam. I told the management and employees that: 1. You managed to beat the Chinese, who tried to rule your country in the past. 2. You managed to beat the French, who once occupied your country. 3. And you have beaten the Americans as well. You must be able to run your business. Believe in yourself. I would like to end this column with a message. Poland was the first country to start the changes in 1989; the rest of Central Europe then followed. Had anybody ever thought that it would all start in Poland? And that is why I expect that soon the right person will stand up and create a national movement that will create a Poland for all Poles. We don’t need a revolution but we do need politicians who understand that they have been elected to serve Poland and not to serve themselves. You were elected by your own people and you are supposed to represent your voters to create a Poland where everybody feels happy and protected. Do not forget that less than 40% of voters support PiS – how difficult is it to reach the other 60% with a good programme? But first of all, try to convince Polish citizens to vote and not to simply stay at home. Democracy starts with you. Poland has overcome far more complicated and threatening situations in the past. That’s why I started this column with the title „Poland (not yet) lost”. firstname.lastname@example.org
This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.
“We are building a global network of Dutch Business Hubs, which the NPCC will be part of” The NPCC is joining the NL Business Hubs network in September, a move which will bring worldwide recognition for its efforts to promote Dutch businesses in Poland. An initiative by the main Dutch employers’ organisations, NLinBusiness was established to support Dutch SMEs with their international ambition and to better facilitate doing business abroad. Bulletin talked to Edo Offerhaus, Managing Director of NLinBusiness, about the organisation.
Can you tell us a little about NLinBusiness? What is your organisation about? Edo Offerhaus: “NLinBusiness is a joint initiative of the Confederation of Dutch Business and the Ministries of Foreign and Economic Affairs which aims to support Dutch companies in their international expansion.” What we have seen is that there are many Dutch companies making fantastic products or offering great services which are also suited to other markets, but these entrepreneurs can find it difficult to identify the wider markets for their products.
So the question is: how can we support Dutch companies in targeting the right markets and how can we secure a successful soft landing into those markets? „We work very closely with confederations and businesses in the technology, industry, logistics, shipping and maritime sectors and we also cooperate closely with top sectors such as life sciences, iTech and energy to identify those entrepreneurs who have the potential and interesting products for international markets. We work together with these entrepreneurs to draw up an overview of the options. That is all done in the Netherlands but, at the end of the day, in order to penetrate the whole market you need to have a foot on the ground in those cities. Traditionally, all the local support was provided by the Dutch public infrastructure, meaning embassies and business councils, such as your chamber. As a confederation of Dutch business, we said that we also want to support our members not only in the Netherlands but also in international markets. And this led us to start building a network of local business support centres called “NL Business Hubs”. These Hubs basically fulfil the same function as the NetherlandsPolish Chamber of Commerce (NPCC) does in Poland. So we would like to position the NPCC as an NL Business hub in Poland so that your chamber can support entrepreneurs with the ambition of penetrating the Polish market with on-the-ground advice about recruitment, legal services, establishing the correct form of legal entity, opening a bank account, licences and permits, and so on.” There are a lot of cities that you have identified that could become part of this network. What can the network as a whole offer more than an individual hub or chamber? What’s the added value there? “First of all, we call them “cities of opportunities”. We have made an extensive study of where we think future growth in the economy will take place and, digging deeper into this topic, we concluded that most of the economic growth will take place in “mega cities”. There are currently about 150 of these mega cities, and we have identified 40 of them that we think will be very interesting for entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. And Warsaw is one of them. For us, it is very important to work closely together with the NPCC to support companies establishing themselves in Poland in order to help them be successful in their market entry. I think that we can bring four important propositions to the NPCC. Firstly, the feedback we got from entrepreneurs from the Netherlands regarding this individual network of business councils suggested, first of all, that the network itself is not that clear on
account of the fact that all the business councils, or chambers as you might call them, have their own name. You call yourself the NPCC, in Bogotá they call themselves Holland House, in San Francisco they call themselves Holland Valley, in Vietnam they call themselves the DBAV, while in Thailand it is the NTCC. This means that entrepreneurs are often not even aware that they are part of a network. The reason why they have all these different names is obvious, as they were always set up by local Dutch entrepreneurs that were already established in that market. However, it meant that they were not very visible from the Dutch perspective. What we try and offer to high-quality business councils is principally transparency and clarity of the proposition. Secondly, Dutch entrepreneurs are not always clear about the different roles played by the embassy and the business council. Everybody appreciates the high quality of the services provided by the Dutch embassies or business councils, but we are all aware that sometimes we can come across certain operational questions which other experienced entrepreneurs can be a better source of information for than the embassy. The embassies are very transparent, logical, clearly defined and visible, while the business councils are still rather unstructured and individually oriented. The third point is that we see ourselves as a facilitator of better services. The NPCC is highly appreciated on many levels and in many fields, even regarded as best in class in some areas, but there are some situations where the NPCC can learn a lot from its colleagues in Bangkok, Hong Kong, San Francisco, London or Bogotá. And we want to facilitate this exchange of perspectives. And lastly is the point of how we can generate more income through joint or combined services. What we see is that there are a lot of interesting regional approaches. We see companies interested in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, and by offering regional services we can really enhance our impact and relevance, as well as create additional income.” How can current members of the chamber benefit from these additional services through the NL Business network? “Together with the board of the NPCC, we can look at the services that the chamber currently provides to its members and show that ideas such as intern programmes or business round tables could be feasible. By introducing proven concepts from other business councils into Poland, we can hopefully impact the services that are provided for your members. And another element is related more to the professional service providers who are members of the NPCC. By bringing in a new context, we can bring in new potential customers of these services.”
How many local hubs are already connected to your network? “At the moment, there are 8 local hubs connected to the network, and these are Warsaw, Munich, Dubai, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Guangzhou/Hong Kong, Bogotá and Mexico City. We plan to expand this to 15 in 2020.” How do you see your cooperation with the NPCC? What highlights can we expect in the first half-year? “First of all, there will be the wonderful Orange Ball in September! But seriously, we are working hard to put Warsaw in the picture and Poland on the map. We see a lot of traction in that. We meet many Dutch entrepreneurs who are selling large numbers of products or services in Germany and they are very interested in moving production to Poland. That will result on one hand in an influx of potential new members who will need support in terms of matchmaking and establishing themselves, and it will also generate fresh blood among the NPCC members. On the other hand, we are looking at is how we can capitalise on the Polish diaspora in the Netherlands and what we can do to encourage these people to invest back in Poland and support Dutch companies that want to enter the Polish market. So we are also looking at how we can support Dutch entrepreneurs in Poland with recruitment and HR services. And finally, we want to enhance the outgoing and incoming trade missions. We are actively exploring options about building coalitions of entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in Poland and we are also welcoming Polish trade missions to the Netherlands to see how we can support them in their activities.” We are often asked the question of how much interest there is in the Netherlands to do business in Poland? How do you see the investments of Dutch companies abroad, especially in Poland? “What we can see in Poland and similar markets is that the first to enter are the big corporations. Now, we are seeing a high level of interest from those big corporations in having a professional local supply chain. So many Dutch companies are moving into Poland to support the supply chain of Dutch companies in Poland. These people already work for Heineken, for instance, or other companies in the Netherlands, and they want to follow their customers’ strategies. These companies have a strong
relationship with their customers in the Netherlands, so when the customer sets up a new operation in Poland, their suppliers follow suit. That is one trend. The other trend is, as we know from experience, that a number of German retailers, customers, organisations and businesses actively encourage Dutch companies to move to western Poland in order to supply their German operations out of Poland instead of the Netherlands. That’s because it’s cheaper and closer, and the quality and reliability are of a high level. So these are the two most prominent trends. I don’t expect many more multinationals to move to Poland, and now there is a lot of interest specifically from SMEs to do so. This was also confirmed by the ‘Trends in Export’ study conducted by Atradius and Evofenedex, which marked Poland out as one of the rising stars for SMEs to move to.” Since Poland is quite close, companies sometimes choose to come here on their own without contacting the chamber or the embassy. In your opinion, what is the best approach to get in contact with those companies? “What we see is that it really takes a lot of effort to get this kind of business info. The fact is that we are an initiative of VNONCW and MKB in the Netherlands, and these two organisations together represent around 240 branch organisations, and we are in contact with all of them. We know that a lot of Dutch entrepreneurs who want to move abroad contact their branch organisation first for advice, guidance, support, etc. And through our network in the Netherlands, these 240 branches know how to find NLinBusiness so we get a lot of people through MetaalUnie or other branch organisations that are introduced to us with a specific request for support. The other thing is that we are continually organising trade missions and trade fair visits. For example, we recently took a Dutch poultry company on a trade mission to Bulgaria and Romania and at the end of the mission they asked us for advice on Poland, so we introduced them to the NPCC. We are a kind of linking pin, first of all because we are so closely associated with all members of VNO-NCW and MKB in the Netherlands, but also because we are so actively involved in international trade expansion that we are now starting to build a very interesting, growing network, of which the NPCC will be a part.”
Column Huub Droogh Huub Droogh is an urbanist and partner of RDH Urban in Poznań
VOTER FOR SALE The first thing I always do when I receive the new issue of Bulletin is read the contributions of my fellow columnists Staf Beems and Remco van der Kroft. This particular interest of mine is linked to the writing of my own column, as I am curious about which observations they have highlighted for Bulletin readers. As columnists, we are observing the same society. Our contributions are diverse, however, due to the places where we live and work, and our age and professional background. Staf tries to give us the impression he observes the world mainly while sitting on his balcony, Remco analyses what is going on in society from a legal and constitutional perspective, while I often use recent experiences in the public domain as my source of inspiration. Despite our different starting points for looking at the world, I have noticed over recent years that Remco and I share a growing concern about what is happening in this country that we hold so dear in our hearts and minds. Poland has developed over the last few decades into an important European country; by far the most powerful economic power of the former ‘Eastern Bloc’. However, the growing nationalism of its political leadership, powered by the subjective interpretation and falsification of the country’s history, the employed methods of dictatorial regimes and the smart use of the available public instruments of power are all marginalising its moral and political position within Europe. It hurts to see such a beautiful country wasting its potential for the future, and history has already shown us many times where narrow-minded nationalism can lead to. Poland is not alone in following a populistdriven direction of development. The leadership of the United States, Hungary and the United Kingdom are just a few examples of other western countries facing the same disease. Nowadays, the question many right-minded people are asking is how and why it has come to this, and how to stop it. As long as there are groups of people organising themselves into societies, there will always be divisions between the people who are leading and the group being led. In the past, we named this first group ‘the elite’. Depending on the historical, cultural, social and economic context, I would estimate that approximately 25-45% of the second group are not in a position to formulate the independent moral, ethical
or socially responsible codes needed to suit the common needs of the society in which they live. So far, it has been the political, religious and economic stakeholders (like the church, trade unions, employer organisations) who have been responsible for defining those contexts. However, the rapid development of information technology is weakening the position of these stakeholder institutions and, within democratic systems, also the position of state governments. The fact that a substantial group of people are not able to formulate their own codes for a civilised society doesn’t mean these people are stupid, or without aim or ambition in their lives. Their focus is simply more on short-term individual targets than on a common long-term social interest. The absence of a coherent social context within a fastchanging society makes people uncertain, however. Not having an overview easily translates into fear of the future and fear of change. The current populist leaders are cleverly using the available tools of (social) media to activate, within a democratic system, those with less understanding for their own purposes. By making attractive promises directly to potential voters, without the interference of institutional filters, you can buy them (miners, families, pensioners, soldiers, policemen, young people, etc.) without needing to have the answers about where the funding should come from over the longer term, or their impact on future generations. The absence of a sustainable strategy for the future is filled by a kind of emotional shopping in the past (‘Make America great again’, ‘History proves we are the biggest nation’, etc.) to fill the gap and bring people together. Most of the stakeholder institutions in Poland are now either diminished or corrupted, and it will fall on the right-thinking part of society to steady the sinking ship. It is those who have the awareness who all pay the price in the end, either literally (in money) or figuratively (the future of your children). Those who run small and medium-sized companies, (inter)national corporate managers and independent professionals are important representatives of this group. The time to keep silent for commercial reasons is gone, the time to raise your voice and use your influence is now. On this issue, I totally agree, respect and support my fellow columnist Remco in his efforts and with his way of reflecting on what is happening in our Poland today.
This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.
Arcadis not worried about... The water and transport market in Poland has proven to be very dynamic in the past few years. Bulletin talked to Jarosław Miziołek, CEO of Arcadis Poland, about the work that his company is currently involved in and the projects that are currently open in the market. Can you tell us a little about the projects you are currently working on? Jarosław Miziołek: “Globally, Arcadis is divided into 4 business lines: buildings, infrastructure, water and environment. In Poland, we operate in all four areas. Our water team specialises in the hydraulic modelling of surface and underground waters as well as water supply and sewage networks. Currently, we are developing flood hazard and risk maps for the whole country as part of a large
consortium. Arcadis, together with the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (IMGW) and the company MGGP, is responsible for preparing maps of the Upper Vistula Water Region. We also provide services such as rainwater management, water for industry and the optimisation of water use. Our clients are mostly municipal water supply and sewage companies, as well as industrial plants, for which water use and sewage treatment are extremely important in terms of their efficiency and operating expenditures. We also provide comprehensive services that respond to the challenges arising from climate change, such as the flooding of buildings, public spaces or logistics centres. The projects that we are working on are mostly commissioned by private companies which are surprised by heavy rains that have caused their assets to be flooded due to inefficient sewage systems. Such problems are growing in number each year.”
...EU budget funds after 2020 How much of an impact do issues in the water sector have on the economy in Poland?
2030. We already have a strong position in some of these areas, while in others we are planning to boost our activity.”
“Water resources in Poland are very limited. However, we can see that the Polish government has recognised the need to invest in solving the broadly defined retention and drought problems in Poland. The government is planning several initiatives: a large retention development programme, the restoration of navigability on the Vistula and the Oder, and various flood protection projects. The Polish government wants to invest billions of zlotys in projects such as the construction of around 20 barrages on the Oder.
You mentioned ports – are these Polish seaports?
In the context of waterways, the main goal is to restore the Oder and the Vistula to the 4th class of navigability so that they can be used for the transportation of goods, which will also reduce the share of transport with high CO2 emissions. Another area that is extremely important to us is the programme of expansion for Polish ports by
The strategic importance of Polish ports on the Baltic Sea is growing every year along with the growth in the volume of the transhipment of goods. You can see that water management in Poland has been neglected over the last few decades. In that period, only the Włocławek barrage and a few other water investments were
“Yes, these are Polish seaports on the Baltic Sea in the Tri-City area and Szczecin. Large contracts have also recently been signed to modernise railway access to the Szczecin and Gdańsk seaports. This expansion programme is worth billions of zlotys and aims to improve access to ports, increase their capacity, deepen their basins and increase the number of quays.
completed. There are also projects such as the barrage in Malczyce, which has been under construction for the last 17 years and is still not yet finished. The Racibórz water reservoir, which is currently being built, is one of the largest investments in the field of the broadly understood problems related to water retention in Poland.” I still remember the “Flood of the Millennium” in Poland over 20 years ago. Right after it happened, the Polish government invested in flood protection projects, also with the support and financing from the European Union, but it seems that these problems still exist and there remains a lot to be done in this field. “There is still a lot to be done and – as I said before – we are looking forward to supporting the further development of flood protection schemes in Poland. Over the next few years, cities will implement their strategies for adapting to climate change by developing projects that improve their resilience. It is a huge market that has been neglected for years and there is a lot of room for action. Arcadis, together with the Institute of Environmental Protection (IOŚ), the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (IMGW) and the Institute for the Ecology of Industrial Areas (IETU), implemented the first large-scale adaptation project in Europe – climate change adaptation plans for 44 Polish cities with over 100,000 residents. Our team was responsible for developing the plans for 17 cities. These plans identified those areas with the highest risk and recommended adaptation measures which aim to protect the residents, as well as their and their city’s assets. Thanks to the fact that we have large teams of environment and water experts, we can provide our clients with complex solutions to their challenges in the fields of water management and environmental protection.” We have discussed various projects. Will most of them be cofinanced with EU funds? “It depends on the area of our operations, but some of these projects will indeed be implemented using EU funds – in particular those projects related to water management and adaptation to climate change.” The current EU budget will end in 2020. What happens after that? “Each EU budget stretches beyond its official implementation period. It is hard to say that the current one will end in 2020 because, in reality, the projects financed from this budget will end around 20232024. About 50% of the funds from the Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment 2014-2020 are still available. These funds will be allocated to all projects related to the development of new motorways, expressways, railways and water management investments. At the same time, we hope that the Polish government will prepare as soon as possible for the implementation of the next EU budget. However, we aren’t too worried about that because we already know that the next budget will contain funds to further make up for the past. There are of course years when there is less money in the market, especially when one EU budget ends and the next one has not yet begun. However, it all depends on how efficiently the government will approach the spending of the new EU funds.”
However, some projects depend heavily on EU funds, as well as government involvement. You also mentioned that some projects in Poland are far from being finished. Does this pose some kind of risk? “Looking at the market, there is of course the risk that some projects will not be completed and the question arises as to what decisions will be made then. We know perfectly well which projects are experiencing difficulties. The tunnel between Łódź Fabryczna and Łódź Kaliska is a good example – there is a high risk that it will not be completed on time. This is a challenging investment because there are two stations to be built between Łódź Fabryczna and Kaliska. It is well-known that the contractor has financial problems and has filed for bankruptcy so the question arises as to what will happen to this project, which is worth over one billion zlotys.” Can you tell us a little more about your buildings division? “This division represents one-third of our business. We don’t usually work on governmental projects or for clients from the public works sector. We focus on private, mostly corporate, clients, with whom we have established very good relations thanks to our previous successful activities. We are the market leader in technical auditing in real estate transactions. This means mainly commercial real estate – for example, when a building is bought or sold by an investment fund or other entity, Arcadis takes care of the technical side of the transaction. Our team performs the Technical Due Diligence audit for buyers or vendors. We estimate that we currently cover around 65% of this market. We also work with investors and investment financing institutions. We have many projects related to bank monitoring, in which our specialists verify the progress of construction works of new shopping centres, logistics centres, office buildings and residential complexes. We are a trusted partner of banks and financing institutions and provide them with the information they need to base their decisions on which projects they can start financing or transfer subsequent loan instalments for. Arcadis is also active in the industrial and logistics sectors. We often support our clients from the earliest stages of investment planning and provide them with our complex services. Recently in Poland we have seen increased activity of Korean, West European, North American and British companies in terms of developing logistics centres and manufacturing facilities. We are cooperating with some of them in delivering their investments. We also provide services to our clients in the area of the creation and refurbishment of offices and commercial spaces. Our dedicated team specialises in workplace innovation, providing designs and concepts for the functioning of the office, all in accordance with the business style of the company and the corporate guidelines.” You mentioned foreign investments. What is your feeling – are they still coming to Poland? “Yes, they are still flowing in to Poland and there are still many of them, but in the back of our minds is the thought that we may soon expect an economic slowdown. Of course, we hope this doesn’t happen because the growth of our buildings business depends on
The new look of the HQ of Arcadis since 2018 in the West Station II building
the market situation. If there is money in the market, companies will invest, and we will have more work to do. If there is a slowdown in the market, then there will be less work for us. However, at the moment, we do not see this trend.” What can you tell about your operations in infrastructure and the environment? “Arcadis has a strong position in the infrastructure market and our key competence – which is unique in Poland – concerns services related to rail traffic control. We are currently involved in several major railway developments in Poland – we’re working on the Katowice railway junction project, and also designing railway line No. 65 on the Katowice-Zebrzydowice section, as well as the Szczecin Metropolitan Railway. We are also involved in very large and demanding road projects, such as the Łagiewnicka Route in Kraków, the A2 Motorway and many expressways. We have a 100-strong team of designers, project managers and other specialists working on these projects. Looking at these numbers, you can see how important the infrastructure business is for our company. As for the outlook in the infrastructure industry, we can see that the number of road projects will slowly decrease, while the number and scale of railway projects will grow – in this context the Polish government is planning investments worth several dozen billion zlotys. We can also see great opportunities and benefits, both for the whole country and for our company, coming from the decision of Polish officials to develop the Central Communication Port.” How do you look at the market for environmental protection? “Environmental protection is the fourth sector in which we are present. Our environment experts, together with their colleagues
from the water division, were responsible for the development of climate change adaptation plans in Polish cities with more than 100,000 residents. The environment team is working in other areas too, such as remediation of contaminated sites. We specialise in removing contamination from brownfield plots, helping our clients to regain the original value of an asset which very often has an industrial past and is contaminated with heavy metals.” Are contaminated plots a common problem in Poland in general? “It’s a very big problem, which is rarely discussed. Many properties in attractive locations are blocked until the contamination is removed, especially in cities. Our goal is to reverse the current mindset – today, if a plot is contaminated, investors prefer not to even touch it and just to leave it alone. In fact, you can regain the value of the plot and restore it for use, for the benefit of the entire local community. Nobody benefits from an abandoned contaminated plot in the heart of a city. However, successful remediation and the removal of contaminants requires knowledge, experience and the application of specialist remediation techniques.” Do you also work in less traditional and more innovative sectors? “Electromobility, or EV, is one of the more innovative areas of our business. We are currently implementing a very interesting and complex project connected with expanding the network of fastcharging stations throughout Poland. We are also carrying out analyses of EV development in large cities, including planning the whole charging network. This market can bring many opportunities and we look forward to being part of its further growth.”
Contribution Embassy Bulletin NPCC New Agricultural Counsellor On 1 August, Carolien Spaans started as the new Agricultural Counsellor at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Warsaw. Carolien and her team will focus on strengthening the bilateral cooperation between Poland and the Netherlands in cooperation with multiple stakeholders, including the Polish and Dutch business communities. Poland, just like the Netherlands, is a major agricultural producer and food supplier and there are many areas where we can cooperate and exchange knowledge, such as in soil quality and fertilisation, animal science and the floricultural sector. The flower sector in particular has seen significant growth in recent years and, therefore, during the upcoming Green is Life / Flower Expo on 5-7 September in Warsaw, 50 participants from the Netherlands will be present.
Carolien Spaans is accredited to Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Before coming to Warsaw, she was Agricultural Counsellor in Ukraine for three years and she has held several positions in the Ministry of Agriculture in the Netherlands since 2006. You can follow the agricultural team of the Embassy on Twitter: @AgriWarsaw or get in touch by sending an email to WAR-LNV@minbuza.nl
Circular Agricultural Day at the Embassy Circular agriculture aims at keeping the residuals of agricultural biomass and food processing within the food system as renewable resources. Closing cycles will be the new model on which future agriculture is based. Therefore, the Agricultural Section of the Embassy has joined Circular Week 2019 and on 10 October it will organise two sessions dedicated to improving soil quality and preventing food waste. The goal of Circular Agricultural Day
at the Embassy is to inform Polish stakeholders about the Dutch approach to circular agriculture and provide better insights into the legislation, initiatives and measures being taken in both countries. If you’re interested, please contact us on email@example.com
Government delegation from the Netherlands On Wednesday 11 September and Thursday 12 September, a government delegation from the Netherlands will visit Warsaw. The aim of the delegation, comprising of representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is to engage with Polish ministries (and others) in order to discuss national and European climate and energy policies. On the second day of the visit, the embassy is organising a multi-stakeholder event (including lunch) in which Niels Redeker, Director
of Climate Policy at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, will explain how the “National Climate Accord”, which the Dutch government and its partners from the public and private sector negotiated and presented recently, came about. In attendance will be representatives from the government, knowledge institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and embassies. If you are interested in attending, please submit a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
... The transport & logistics market is developing rapidly and facing new opportunities and challenges in the ever more connected ‘global village’. Together with the NPCC, we are organising a conference and networking event on 26 September
to address the issues relevant to your business. How to boost efficiency? What does ‘sustainability’ mean for transport & logistics? The event will be hosted by CLIP Intermodal Container Terminal (sightseeing included). Would you like to attend? Contact email@example.com
... Are you a Dutch entrepreneur active in Poland? Many newcomers would appreciate hearing more about your experiences and learning from them. The embassy would like to share your stories
about doing business in Poland on its website. Your input would be greatly appreciated (with our sincere gratitude or, if you like, an invitation for coffee at the embassy). Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Identity The impact of the European Union, immigration, globalisation and tourism are all broadly considered to be threats to the concept of national identities. In her speech on September 24, 2007, Princess Máxima, as she was then, proclaimed that a “Dutch identity” is nowhere to be found. Her statement was strongly criticised in the media and the nation as a whole was not amused. Anno 2019, and the protection, preservation and marketing of national identities is being increasingly integrated into politics all around the world. If there is no glorious narrative that can serve as the foundation for an identity, one will be created, bought or stolen. According to a recent report from the Netherlands Institute for Social Research, 41% of Dutch people are of the opinion that there is a Dutch identity, 42% answered “only in specific cases” while 6% firmly rejected the notion of a Dutch identity. So what do the Dutch say typifies this identity? Civil liberties or our political system are not even mentioned in the top 20 points and religion is also not an issue. It is all about cultural characteristics: the Dutch language as well as national commemorations, national holidays, traditions and customs. In discussions about a Dutch identity, it is our history and especially the events and figures from the Dutch Golden Age* that play the biggest role.** As far as culture and the arts are concerned, the Netherlands is known all around the world as a country of great painters. Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Piet Mondriaan and Karel Appel, to name but a few, have made the Netherlands what it is in this regard. Dutch painters have helped to promote the country’s art heritage around the world, and their paintings from various collections are on almost permanent display in many of the most renowned museums around the world. 2019 marks the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn’s death. He is considered one of the greatest artists ever to have lived and the most important Dutch painter in the history of art. Unlike most Dutch masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt’s works depict a wide range of styles and subjects: from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies. Possessing the largest collection of Rembrandt’s paintings, including his masterpiece “The Night Watch”, the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands is this year devoting even more attention to the artist. There is also plenty of additional attention on Rembrandt in Poland, with three of his paintings to be found in Polish collections. Landscape with the Good Samaritan (c.1638) – one of six oil-painted landscapes by the artist – is part of the Princes Czartoryski collection in Kraków. One of many paintings looted by the Nazis in 1939, it was returned to Kraków after World War II and it has been on display in Warsaw since earlier this year. The other two paintings – Girl in a Picture Frame and Scholar at his Writing Table (c.1641) – come from the King Stanisław August Royal Picture Gallery at Łazienki Palace in Warsaw. Today, they are the property of the Royal Castle in Warsaw and on permanent display. For three centuries they were transported around Europe: on carts and carriages, in trucks and trains. They decorated the walls of canal
houses and palaces and they were among the most beloved paintings of King Stanisław August himself. In the 18th century, they ended up in the hands of the Polish noble Lanckoroński family. At the beginning of the Second World War, the paintings disappeared and were believed lost in the tumultuous violence. However, in 1994 the Polish countess Karolina Lanckorońska donated a large collection of works of art to the Royal Castle in Warsaw which included the two masterful tronies. On 4 October, the Royal Castle in Warsaw will open a modest exhibition on Rembrandt with Girl in a Picture Frame and Scholar at his Writing Table as the centrepieces. It will be a perfect reason (once again) to visit the castle in Warsaw. If not for the paintings, then for the restored castle itself, which is a symbol of the sovereignty of the Polish state and very much part of the Polish identity. Keep in mind that the castle was a target for German military attacks in the first days of World War II, and in September 1939 it was already in flames. Polish museum workers and conservators, risking their own lives and already thinking about the future reconstruction of the building, made a huge effort to rescue the most precious art collections and decorative elements, aware that the occupiers had made the decision to blow up the castle. The act of destruction was completed during the Warsaw Uprising in September 1944, when the Nazis blasted the walls. Reconstruction started in September 1971 and was completed in 1988. The rebuilding of the castle was accompanied by the immense involvement of the Polish nation. The whole investment was financed almost in full by donations from Poles both at home and abroad. Rembrandt’s paintings in the Royal Castle in Warsaw are part of our common history, our Polish as well as our Dutch identity. They are part of our common cultural heritage. Paying respect to our common cultural heritage, our common past, contributes positively to our bilateral relations. Sharing a history, an identity, encourages mutual understanding and respect. From the carillons in the towers in Gdańsk to the roads initiated by Marianne van Oranje in Lower Silesia. From the Mennonite polders in the Żuławy region to the graves of the Soldiers of the 1st Polish Armoured Division of General Stanisław Maczek in Breda. From Landscape with the Good Samaritan to the ashes of Sobibor. It is all part of a common history, our common identity, a common European identity.
he Dutch Golden Age: a period in the history of the Netherlands, roughly T spanning the 17th and 18th centuries, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. ** Source: “Denkend aan Nederland” (“Thinking about the Netherlands”, Netherlands Institute for Social Research, 2019). Pictures ©Royal Castle Warsaw Follow (and like) the embassy on Facebook: nlembassypl
Successful Orange Goes Green seminar on sustainable development goals
During our seminar in June, the NPCC, Unilever, Grupa Żywiec, IKEA and ING Bank Śląski teamed up to increase awareness of Sustainable Development Goals. During the event, the participating partners openly shared their business practices with other members of the NPCC. Bulletin talked to Maciej Lasoń, head of communications at Unilever Eastern Europe. How do you look back at the event? Maciej Lasoń: “I think it was the perfect way to start collaboration between Unilever, the NPCC and all the partners presenting themselves there. My biggest hope is that we continue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) seminar next year. My key take-away from the event was that I was extremely surprised by the level of openness
“I was extremely surprised by the level of openness and collaboration between the companies presenting themselves.” and collaboration between the companies presenting themselves. I would say that a decade ago, even a few years ago, that would have been almost impossible. A decade ago, we would have been hiding some of our strategies, keeping our KPIs and our thinking to ourselves. We have seen now that sustainable development goals are a kind of common topic that we can work on together and, because of that, we are much more open. When it comes to solving some of
or medium brand also a sustainable living and purposeful brand because you have already seen how the programme is constructed and how it should work.” As Unilever, and as a B2C company, do you see the same need for change in the B2B sector?
Speakers of all the participating companies were talking openly about their goals and challenges regarding SDGs
these environmental problems, we are working almost as one team. I think the best success that I saw was several different companies discussing with absolute honesty about collaborating together.” What kind of openness did you notice between the participants ING, Ikea, Grupa Żywiec and Unilever? “Everybody shared their strategies, and also their problems and some KPIs, so it was not just a short presentation with some typical case studies but also a discussion about possible problems and challenges that companies are facing. As an example, when we said that one of our brands is running a very good social programme to refurbish Polish cities but is finding it a challenge to reach the whole country, Ikea then mentioned that they have stores in those cities and offered to join forces with us. So there you have us, with our readymade programme, and Ikea, with its workforce, stores and foot on the ground in those cities able to make the scale four times bigger. That was one of the best things to come out of the seminar.”
“Right now, yes. Every change is coming in two ways. B2C companies are first to adopt change because, obviously, we are living in the very fast world of social media and so consumers are very, very demanding. They want to have everything, they want to have it now, and delivered perfectly today as well. Consumers get angry if the company doesn’t have a purpose or isn’t sustainable or if it produces too much plastic. And they are quick to express that anger on social media. So companies working in the B2C model are under pressure much, much faster. But even if you are working in B2B, I think we are living in a world right now where every company, regardless of its financial results and the name of the brand, needs to have a purpose, to stand for something. And this is the next phase that is emerging right now, even in B2B. When you meet your customers, it is much, much better if your company has a clear purpose. Purpose and sustainability are incredibly important elements to your branding. And then, even in B2B, when it comes to sustainability, Unilever, for example, has a lot of internal regulations and codes so even if you are our supplier and you’re working in the B2B model, you also need to be part of our sustainability strategy – for example, if you are working for Unilever as a B2B supplier after 2020, you won’t be able to use coal as part of your energy mix anymore. So you’ll need to change towards a more sustainable model anyway. This is coming right now and it will definitely have an impact on B2B.”
On the opposite side of the scale are the small and medium-sized companies for whom this is a completely new topic. What is your opinion, how important is this kind of event for them? “I think it’s very important because there is one common ‘if’, so to speak, especially for small and medium-sized companies. And that is if doing something for the environment, within the framework of sustainable development goals, to be more precise, is an extra cost. The big companies started doing it some time ago, and what we’ve seen is that actually it’s not only a cost, but also a gain for the company because consumers are more and more interested in sustainable leading brands. This is especially clear when you look at Unilever or Ikea – they are simply growing faster and achieving higher sales. We have clear numbers on that as we’ve been measuring it for more than 10 years now. I believe that if you are a small or medium-sized company, and Unilever says that sustainable and purposeful brands are growing 46% faster than regular brands, then this is the first proof that you’re not doing something artificial additionally, but something to help your business grow even faster. The second thing is, I believe that since the big companies designed some of the programmes and ideas, the framework, they are almost ready to plug and play for smaller companies as they can see how Unilever runs its own purposeful brands. You can see that there are almost no obstacles to just taking that model and making your small
As a global company Unilever touches all the sustainable development goals
There are 17 different sustainable development goals. Which goal is the focus for Unilever? “Honestly speaking, we don’t have a focus. We are a large company – we own 300 brands all over the world. When we did that exercise, we found that we touch all the SDGs, just in different markets. For instance, in Poland we have a problem with high levels of air pollution so we are adjusting to that, especially in our supply chain. In the developing parts of the world, however, we have a bigger problem with food and hygiene so then we are concentrating our efforts there. As a global company, we touch all of the SDGs.”
New members of
the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
Warsaw Uncorked Warsaw Uncorked is an events agency and we will be happy to plan and organise a great time for you, sharing our knowledge about the city and its culinary offers. We specialise in organising wine tastings, culinary workshops and wine trips for business and private clients, as great wine and food makes it easier for people to mingle and exchange new ideas. Join us for one of our regular wine tastings or contact us to learn more about our customised events. Warsaw Uncorked Grzybowska 87, 00-844 Warsaw +48 516 370 070 email@example.com www.warsawuncorked.com
Doradztwo – Zarządzanie Projektami Inwestycyjnymi We are a company working in the real estate sector in the area of restructuring, mergers and investment process management since 1993. We offer investment and financial consulting services, prepare consortia for the implementation of targeted investments and we also enter into cooperation as part of a joint venture. We cooperate in the field of the preparation and implementation of investment processes related to renewable energy sources. We assist our partners in the organisation of economic zones and the introduction of agri-food processing aimed at implementing modern technologies. We also offer collaboration and investment cooperation with the shipbuilding industry. Doradztwo – Zarządzanie Projektami Inwestycyjnymi Sienkiewicza 31/2, 85-037 Bydgoszcz +48 696 054 010 firstname.lastname@example.org
Allego B.V. Allego is a leading European operator of charging solutions for electric vehicles, with significant expertise in e-mobility, including the creation of a network of multi-standard quick charging stations from 50kW up to 350kW. The company collaborates with partners from various industries in the planning, construction and operation of charging stations. It operates over 13,000 charging points in urban areas and along the main European transport routes, supporting companies and drivers of electric vehicles via its cloud-based service platform. This platform contains the entire portfolio of practical services, such as billing, active monitoring, mobile apps, website portals and analytics. With Allegro’s charging solutions, companies can also offer their own customers, employees and visitors worldwide e-charging facilities under their own brands. The company is currently setting up a pan-European high-power charging (HPC) network called MEGA-E, which is co-financed by the European Union. Allego will erect 322 high-power charging locations, including 39 so-called ‘e-charging hubs’. This interoperable charging network will connect metropolitan areas and highways and enable continuous rapid charging in more than 20 countries throughout Europe. Each of the 322 charging locations will provide four HPC charging points, allowing four electric vehicles to charge simultaneously with up to 350 kW. Allego B.V. Westervoortsedijk 73 6827 AV Arnhem +31887500300 www.allego.eu
NPCC Test Drive
Jeep Compass SUV something of a mixed bag
up for carrying loads. The car is perfectly capable of driving through corners, however, even ones with lots of crests and dips. In that sort of terrain, the steering is accurate, too, if a little numb. It doesn’t have the happy, cartoonish cabin motifs of the Renegade. The Compass is more grown-up, and the materials and finish are good. The touchscreen is easy to navigate and the menus make sense. The general snappiness of the system is impressive too. Onboard apps include a set of graphics to help when off-roading, and the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration is pretty tight too. Just near the USB port is a handy mesh pocket to hold your phone.
Coming off a very low base, Jeep’s presence in Europe is increasing because it makes cars that suit European conditions. The Renegade was the first one and now there is the Compass, which is aimed at the biggest-selling part of the SUV market. It’s the same size as the Qashqai, the Tiguan, the Kuga and the Sportage.
The amount of space inside is good-to-average, and it suits the demands of a family car. In the front, the seats are firm and supportive in the European style rather than soft and squishy like in the US. It’s a pity the RHD conversion has such little left-foot space for the driver, though. Adults can sit in the back, though they can’t exactly stretch out. They also get USB and 12V sockets to add to the ones in the front. Plus, there are directable vent outlets and small reading lights. Drop the centre armrest and a gaping hole leads into the boot. The boot itself was broad but shallow in our test car, but that’s because under the floor there was an optional full-size spare wheel. That will reassure off-road adventurers, but having a smaller spare wheel will give you a multi-level floor and more storage space.
When the NPCC tested the car, we found the design to be a strong point. At the front, Jeep’s trademark seven-slot grille has been modernised, and the sides have strong half-hexagon blistered arches and a thick D-post tapering upwards. There is a chrome strip running below the roof-line, which then neatly goes down to run under the rear window, and back up again the other side. The proportions look tough and capable. The Compass has the same powertrains that we’ve seen in other Jeeps and Fiats. We tested the 2-litre engine, which is actually quite noisy and a bit rough. The 1.6 litre is definitely quieter and the 1.4 litre petrol version is even more refined. And out of the two choices for the gearbox, the automatic gearbox is the smartest and smoothest choice. Interestingly, Jeep went for a rear suspension instead of the multi-link that rival 4x4s offer. This means that it performs better off-road. Inside, Fiat-Chrysler’s infotainment system Uconnect, which has had a major workover, has an 8.4-inch screen with sat nav and CarPlay/Auto. The suspension is very busy and surprisingly hard at town speed, which is not so good for a family crossover. At faster speeds the hardness does go away somewhat, so maybe the suspension is set
The Compass is more of an SUV than a soft-roader. And it’s closer to European tastes than stereotypical American ones. It’s got diesel versions, it’s space-efficient, it’s reasonably well-finished and it goes around corners. People will buy it for the Jeep name, even if this particular Jeep doesn’t have the all-American feel that, say, a Ford Mustang does. But, at the same time, it’ll benefit from Jeep’s American branding of freedom and ruggedness. The trouble is that the noisy powertrains and hard ride at low speeds drag it down. However, the car has off-road ability, a good infotainment system and strong exterior looks which will make it interesting to a wide audience.
The Netherlands Polish Chamber of Commerce was invited to test this car by Planet Car Lease
Long-term rental is the best solution for entrepreneurs and not so expensive a replacement vehicle when the contracted car is off the road, breakdown assistance, summer and winter tyres, with storage and exchange, as well as fuel cards. What’s more, everything is overseen by consultants providing round-the-clock care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Choosing long-term rental can bring the client many benefits over other forms of financing, with the main one being the monthly instalments which cover the operating and maintenance costs, but not the value of the car. Most companies that offer long-term car rental services decide to conclude agreements without the client’s initial ‘own contribution’. Moreover, the client also receives a single invoice for all the services, which greatly reduces extra management costs, while the fuel cards bring additional benefits in the form of discounts when buying petrol. For a potential customer, long-term rental may also have numerous tax and financial benefits. In addition to the simplified accounting procedure mentioned above (with one total invoice for all services), the monthly rental instalment is also entirely tax-deductible. This means the client is not affected by the risk of depreciation or the low residual value of the car – and there are no worries about having to resell the vehicle after the contract term has finished. Long-term rental is an increasingly popular option among companies these days. With car fleets growing constantly, the owners of small, medium-sized and large enterprises are having to look a little wider for the best available solutions. And one of them may be long-term rental, which is offered by Hitachi Capital Polska. In today’s market, companies have a wide range of options for financing potential fleet purchases, with long-term rental, as well as leasing and the traditional form of loans and credits, being the most popular ones. Long-term rental has many advantages over other financing solutions, however, which Is why Hitachi Capital Polska provides an offer which perfectly meets the expectations of clients seeking only the best solutions for their fleets. Long-term rental is a service that allows the client to rent a vehicle for a specific period of time for a pre-arranged payment. The exact services to which the client is entitled are determined by the plan that they choose. The services chosen most often include: vehicle repairs and overhaul, car insurance,
Hitachi Capital Polska offers its clients a wide range of options when it comes to choosing cars for their fleets. The company serves customers throughout the country and currently has over 10,000 cars under its care. Each client inquiry is assessed on an individual basis and a specific offer is prepared for the specific requirements that best match the expectations of the interested party. So why is long-term rental better than buying a car? The biggest advantages of this form of financing are the hugely simplified formalities and reduced costs that result from a single regular payment, as well as the constant care and assistance. The client only needs to fill up with petrol and then the car can be enjoyed carefree in line with the chosen package. After the long-term rental agreement expires, the cars are then sold off at auction, where other customers have the opportunity to buy them with very attractive prices and conditions. www.hitachicapital.pl www.planetcarlease.pl
Column Remco van der Kroft Advocaat (Dutch licensed lawyer) and partner of Olczak-Klimek Van der Kroft Węgiełek
Rule of law and Air Kuchciński I promised that this column would discuss the current state of affairs when it comes to the rule of law in Poland and the actions taken by the EU in this respect. And it will, but I cannot come to that without first mentioning the saga known as “Air Kuchciński”. Mr. Kuchciński, chairman of the Presidium of the Sejm, also known as marshal of the Sejm, came under scrutiny recently for inviting his family and friends on his weekly official flights to Rzeszów on the brand new Gulfstream plane of the Polish armed forces (incidentally, the biggest investment made by the Polish armed forces in recent years). “Should his wife and children have taken Flixbus instead?” was my first reaction. However, most of the Polish opposition media seemed to miss the point. These flights of the marshal of the Sejm were on so-called ‘official business’. What business can he even have outside the walls of the Sejm? That should have been the question. The only function of the marshal is to run the sessions of the Sejm and if, for whatever reason, the position of President of the Republic becomes vacant, he would replace the President until the new one is elected. Calling him the “Second Person in the State” (which those who tried to defend him did) is something of a misnomer as he can be replaced in an instant. It took quite a while, and probably an opinion poll among PiS supporters, before Mr. Kuchciński was told to resign by the party chairman. Mr. Piebiak, the deputy minister of justice, who was running a troll farm trying to discredit judges critical of government reforms, on the other hand, resigned the same day that the news became public. However, just in case, disciplinary proceedings against Professor Markiewicz, chairman of the Polish Judges Association and the trolls’ main target, were also instigated. After all, “you never know if there was a grain of truth” in the otherwise false allegations spread on the internet.
Maybe they should hire an army of trolls to discredit members of the CJEU (the European Court of Justice) after they ruled on 24 June that the Polish Act on the Supreme Court of 8 December 2017 was in breach of the European Treaty. This was the law that forced a large group of judges into early retirement. The decision confirmed a temporary measure ordering the reinstatement of those judges back in October 2018. The CJEU is not done with Poland yet as many of the reforms of the Polish justice system have ended up on the desk of the CJEU as the Polish judges asked for preliminary rulings from the CJEU. Some of those judges, by the way, now face disciplinary action or have simply been demoted. Most of these issues originate from the changes introduced to the National Council of the Judiciary (NCJ) when its members were removed before the end of their constitutionally guaranteed four-year term and replaced, not, as is the European standard in the main, by their fellow judges, but in a very unclear manner by Parliament. When the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the Sejm to provide clarity on this, the Sejm’s administration decided to use the full book of legal tricks and excuses not to comply with a decision of the highest administrative court in the land. This council appoints judges, including the members of the newlycreated Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, and the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs of the Supreme Court. The latter is the body which will have to judge the validity of the October elections, or invalidity as the case may be. In the meantime, as lawyers we see that the majority of judges in Poland are struggling to provide justice with the little means they have and without the reforms that are really necessary.
This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.
The magazine ‘Bulletin’ is our flagship member and business partner publication. In the magazine you can read interesting interviews, articl...
Published on Oct 1, 2019
The magazine ‘Bulletin’ is our flagship member and business partner publication. In the magazine you can read interesting interviews, articl...