Bulletin no. 73 Winter 2020

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Bulletin No. 73 Winter 2020

Eric van Vliet

on the upcoming Mitsubishi and Hitachi merger: “We can now support our clients virtually without any limits”

• Matchmakings for incoming meat replacement mission successful • Santander Bank: Green Transformation will help the Polish economy

We wish all the members and friends of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2021 on behalf of:


Winter 2020



Director’s note

5 6

Chamber Agenda Interview

Eric van Vliet, CEO of Hitachi Capital CEE, discusses


the merger with Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance and the current situation on the lease market

10 12

Chamber News and Events

Mattèo and Carola Piano, founders of Innogusto, share their

Interview opinions and experience of the digital mission on plant-based meat to Poland, organised with the support of the NPCC



Staf Beems



Piotr Bielski, Director of the Economic Analysis Department

Eric van Vliet, CEO of Hitachi Capital CEE "Our expansion strategy will put us first in all CEE countries"


at Santander Bank Polska: "There are some factors that would allow the Polish economy to exit this shock"

20 21

News from NLinBusiness Sponsored Article

Michał Jakubowski, Head of Corporate Business at Aegon Poland, on why group life insurance is currently a real asset for employers on the labour market



Huub Droogh



Agnieszka Hipś, CEO of CLIP Group, tells us more about

Piotr Bielski, Economist at Santander Bank Polska Challenges and opportunities for the Polish economy


the company’s expansion and unique modernisation


Platinum Sponsor Article

Rent long-term, and go where the current takes you

29 30 32

New Members Messages from the Embassy

Mazda MX-30



Remco van der Kroft

NPCC Test Drive Agnieszka Hipś, CEO of Clip Group Deutsche GVT: Clip is the best logistic centre in Poland



Director’s note

Elro van den Burg Managing Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

Dear Reader, Usually this fourth page, in the fourth Bulletin of the year, is the time for an overview and to look back at the year just passed. Let me put it this way, it’s a chance to relax and enjoy the things that we managed to accomplish over the past few months. How different it is in 2020! As we all know, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on companies, turning all our usual schedules and working practices totally upside down. We are very well aware of the impact this has had on our members, especially those in the hospitality and events sector. The pandemic has also impacted the NPCC and our activities. Our team is currently still working from home and most of our offline events have had to become online events. Just like in your own offices, we have also had to incorporate new hygiene rules into our events, and we are doing our best to adjust to this ‘new normal’. At the same time, we have kept up the pace in terms of the events that we are able to offer. Some of them took place offline, with others being held online. We organised a visit to a couple of Ghelamco buildings – the recently completed Warsaw HUB and also the Warsaw UNIT, which is currently still under construction. A big thank you to Jeroen van der Toolen for generously opening up his new buildings and hosting this event for us. We also offered two online speed mixers for our members. Firstly, we had the 7th edition of the speed mixer in Łódź, organised by the Special Economic Zone, which attracted a total of over 180 participants, and then more recently, together with 11 other bilateral chambers of commerce, we held the annual International Speed Business Mixer with more than 240 people in attendance. You can read more about both these events in the following pages of our Bulletin. We have also been very active in the field of digital matchmakings. In October, we organised 60 meetings with the retail and food industry for ten companies from the Netherlands that produce meat substitute products.

In December, we have so far set up 100 meetings with Polish companies as part of the incoming digital mission on offshore wind energy. This mission has been organised by the RVO and the Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw and is led by Minister Sigrid Kaag of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. You will be able to read more about our matchmaking activities in the next issue of the Bulletin as we are currently still in the middle of preparations for the mission at the time of going to press. What is clear to me, however, is that the topics we have supported the incoming missions on this year – offshore wind energy, meat substitute products and e-mobility – will continue to gain a lot of traction next year as well. Looking at the EU budget that is currently being discussed, and the ever-increasing pressure from both the private and public sectors to make the transition to green energy, this will make Poland an attractive country to do business in. So the opportunities are there, although next year will undoubtedly be a big challenge for us all. We’re all waiting now to get back to normal, but it’s not clear when we will actually be able to get a grip on the virus. Many companies and employees have had to adjust to the reality of working from home, which is not always easy. Therefore, I hope that you all have the possibility to sit back and relax a little in the coming weeks and spend some quality time with your family at home. On behalf of the NPCC team and board, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a healthy 2021! Are we getting it right? Let me know at e.vandenburg@nlchamber.com.pl

This was part of the meat replacement mission organised by the agricultural department of the Netherlands Embassy. During this mission, I had the privilege to moderate an online

Elro van den Burg Managing Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

Bulletin is the quarterly magazine of the Netherlands-Polish 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

Our platinum sponsors


seminar and interview specialists from the industry in Poland in the studio of our member 24/7 Communication. It is good to see that digital communication and platforms are increasing in popularity and that they offer a workable alternative to face-to-face meetings.

Managing Editor: Anna Zadrożna Columnists: Huub Droogh Staf Beems Remco van der Kroft

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

Activities of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

Chamber Agenda

The highest priority of the NPCC is the health and safety of our members and their loved ones. Therefore, in the best interest of our members and our community, the Chamber has decided to limit all offline events until an absolute minimum until after the threat of COVID19 has passed. We have set up a calendar consisting of online events which enables you to keep networking and doing business in our community. 10-11 December 2020

Incoming Trade Mission:

10 February 2021

Round Table & Webinar:

Offshore Wind Energy

Offshore Wind Energy


Online More info will be announced via our website

14 December 2020

16 December 2021

Round Table & Webinar

24 February 2021

We are inviting our members to become community members



More info will be announced via our website

More info will be sent out directly to members of the community

Agriculture Knowledge Circle

3 March 2021

17 February 2021

IT Knowledge Circle

We are inviting new community members from this sector to participate

This group is open for new participants


More info will be sent out directly to members of the community


More info will be sent out directly to members of the community

20 January 2021

Sustainability Knowledge Circle

Economic scenarios for 2021 - Polish and global perspective

Round Table & Webinar

4 March 2021

Round Table & Webinar



More info will be announced via our website

More info will be announced via our website

HR Knowledge Circle We are inviting new community members with positions in HR management to participate

17 March 2021

Business meeting for new members More info will be announced via our website

Online More info will be sent out directly to members of the community

Please follow our NPCC website: www.npcc.pl for an updated calendar 5


Eric van Vliet CEO, Hitachi Capital CEE

We can support our clients virtually without limit Hitachi Capital and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance recently announced a planned merger between the two companies, creating Japan’s second-largest leasing company. We sat down with President Eric van Vliet of Hitachi Capital Central and Eastern Europe to talk about the implications of the merger for our region. presence all around the world. With the merger of Mitsubishi and Hitachi Capital, we have created a strong global player, the second-largest player in the world after the financial services group Orix. As a result, the whole product portfolio will be much broader, and the availability of capital for leasing more easily accessible, which will give us an incredibly strong position as the second-largest player worldwide.” What will the impact of the merger be on your operations in Central Europe? “Here in Europe, we will not make any changes in the organisation that will be directly visible for our clients. However, we will be the second-biggest leasing company in the world, giving us a strong position and access to capital so that we can support our clients virtually without limit. We can offer many services with better conditions and support companies in their growth virtually without limit, too. And that is particularly important for our clients. The impact on our organisation in Japan will be directly visible, however, since the two headquarters there will be merging.”


Let’s start with the latest news concerning Hitachi Capital. Can you tell us a little bit more about the merger between Hitachi and Mitsubishi?

You mentioned easy access to capital. Does the merger have implications for Hitachi’s future in Central Europe?

“This is great news, and we have known that it would be taking place since 2016. Hitachi Capital has two main shareholders: one is Hitachi Ltd, which everybody knows from the products, and the other one is Mitsubishi Leasing. We already knew back in 2016 that one day they might merge into this new company. Just like Hitachi, Mitsubishi Leasing also had its own very large and broad leasing company, including airplanes, engines and real estate, and when it took a share in Hitachi Capital the aim was to bring the two groups closer together to become a really large player in Japan. Mitsubishi is not active in Europe, although Hitachi Capital does have a strong presence here, so this broad idea of bringing them together would result in a strong

“Yes, we already have a growth plan, and we are always looking to grow further. When you look at the beginning of the year, when we took over Fraikin in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, giving us a presence in three additional countries, our strategy was to expand in the region. We continue to look for the possibility of acquisitions and our top priority is to look for potential acquisitions in Poland. So we keep on growing on the one hand in an organic and autonomous way, but on the other hand also through acquisitions. And therefore the merger will give us much more strength to take over and build our position here in this region, enabling us to service our clients wherever they have their business.”

For people who may not know your company very well, can you tell us a little about things that have happened in the past? For example, the merger, your activity in the region and what has been established over the past few years? “Our history goes back to 2016 when we started with Planet Car Lease, a pretty small private company. Then we merged with Hitachi Capital and from that point on we have been only expanding. Since that first expansion, we no longer focus only on passenger cars and light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, which is what most traditional leasing companies on the market do. We also go beyond 3.5 tonnes up to big trucks of 44 tonnes. Our core business is to customise commercial vehicles, so we service every customer depending on their needs to make sure they receive a different commercial vehicle, with specific sizes, lifts, freezing possibilities, and so on. Our focus is on providing this customisation in terms of cooling, body building, lifts, and all the rest. We built a really strong team for that, and that was the first expansion. This product offer is also a very big advantage for our clients with a full range of vehicles – passengers cars and commercial vehicles – as it means we are a one-stop shop that can help them not only in Poland, but also in CEE and the whole of Europe. So that is a unique position and there is nobody else on the market who can do it.” Can you tell us a little more about the activities that you have established in other regions over the years? “Yes, after our first step involving customisation and expanding our wide range of vehicles, the next step was also in the regions. We had a strong position in Poland, but we were not present in other CEE countries. So, our first step was the acquisition of Fraikin earlier this year, which immediately gave us a good position in the commercial vehicles sector in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. We are now in the next phase of our strategy in those three countries, which involves adding passenger cars to our offer there. On top of that, in Hungary, we are working on the acquisition of a passenger car leasing company which, if it succeeds, will immediately make us the sixth-biggest player on the Hungarian market. We plan to repeat that in other countries too, so our ongoing expansion strategy will put us in first place in all CEE countries.”

in our sector has been less, and what also helps is that we are such a strong player that we are not approaching a situation where we have liquidity issues. And that is something that our competitors, even some big players, have had.” Many companies put on the brakes and held back on making new investments. Didn’t you have any problems with sales? “What we are seeing is that there is an impact in the sense that we are growing less quickly than we planned, but business is still ongoing. So we will not achieve our full growth plans. Is that a big issue? Of course, it is never nice not to grow in the way you planned, but it’s not bringing us any financial problems. And don’t forget that companies still need vehicles. They need to replace their fleets so that brings new opportunities to us as well. Many came to us because our competitors couldn’t help them anymore due to their financial standing. In this situation, therefore, we see some sectors losing out, such as restaurants and hotels, but on the other hand, other businesses are increasing, such as home delivery, online ordering, and so on. This means that they need extra vehicles for deliveries. We are very flexible and ready for those opportunities, and we have already bought the stock in the market so that we can immediately deliver vehicles to clients who would normally have had to wait three or four months.” How can you support companies that struggle with their financial situation and have difficulties to settle their payments? “It’s true that we have them as well. We try to help these clients and find solutions, such as being flexible so they can return their vehicles early or park them for 3 months at our premises so that they don’t incur costs. We support our clients by helping them to reduce their costs and then, as soon as the economy picks up, we will be able to support them again and get the vehicles back on the road. There were several companies in our region which were also using this solution, especially in the first wave, because the factories were also closed at that time and it was possible to see the whole transport market collapsing. Many strong players managed to survive, but there were also some players who ended up in a difficult situation. We want to be a partner in the good times and also the bad times, and we want to help our customers that are having difficulties.” Looking at the situation with Covid-19, how do you foresee the mobility business in the coming months?

You are performing better than planned, but one big thing that happened in 2020 is Covid. What impact has that had on your company? “Yes, Covid has hit us all, so we cannot say that we have no issues with that as that would not be true. However, the impact

“We see the trend that our business will continue to increase. Why? Covid-19 has made people scared. People are much more worried about taking public transport now, so they are looking at other forms of transport. And that’s where we come in as we offer mobility solutions. Of course, we have vehicles and that is one thing, but people are also looking at other products and flexible solutions. They are looking at mobility solutions for getting from A to B, without using public transport, so in that sense it also helps our business and gives a positive outlook for the future. It will be difficult to get everybody back into the public transport sector as before.”



When we look at Covid-19, it seems that being ecofriendly has lost a bit of momentum to issues such as profitability and the bottom line. How does this work in your market? “It depends on the market you are in. In our region, I would say that it’s a little less important, but in Western Europe taking care of your carbon footprint is as important as it was before Covid. So we see mainly two trends: where people are looking for mobility which is not only a car but a combination of a car with a bike, taxi, public transport, and so on. They just want to get from A to B in the best possible way. A few years ago, we bought a company in the Netherlands called Mobility Mix, specifically to be the frontrunner in mobility solutions. Clients get a card which allows them to use all forms of transport, and then on the app you just say that you want to get from point A to point B, and the app tells you the most efficient, quickest or cheapest way to get there. It is also easier for companies from a financial and administrative point of view as the company gets an invoice once a month where everything is already added together, so they don’t have any additional administration to do. It’s all done by us. And this takes away all the administration and troubles for the company.” Apart from this app, how is e-mobility going here in Poland? What are your sales in this area? “What we can see is that the switch from cars with combustion engines to hybrid and fully electric cars in Western Europe is progressing quite rapidly because governments are giving hefty grants for buying these cars. In Germany, you can receive up to 8,000 euros, which is a significant amount. By doing so, they make electric cars the same price as a normal car with a combustion engine. As a result, we see that change is happening in Western Europe very rapidly. What is missing in our region, especially in Poland, is government support, which currently offers fewer tax advantages for electric vehicles. And the charging infrastructure in Poland is also very limited. For example, when I want to drive my Tesla and go to Poznań, it is very difficult as there are no charging points on the way. We need the government to support this, because although private investments will set up the charging infrastructure, we still need government support to create the incentives for companies to become interested in this market. And that is still missing. There have already been many projects in the past, but they were never approved, so we’re all waiting for the government to support this. We do have electric vehicles, and we are actually a frontrunner on the Polish market, so we promote them to our clients, but they are hesitant due to the limited infrastructure.” Do you see already some clients that want to be the first on the market to buy electric cars? “Yes, we see that there is a strong interest among international companies. Some of them have the strategy to reduce their CO2

footprint by 25%, or even 50%. And in some countries, they even have the policy that all vehicles must be electric. However, we are noticing that even those companies are being realistic, and they won’t invest in a fleet when electric cars are still too expensive and the costs for a fleet will increase tremendously when compared to cars with a combustion engine. The charging infrastructure is also a huge issue because when you put your salespeople in electric vehicles, they will not be so efficient. In order to make decisions about their whole fleet, therefore, these companies need support from the government in terms of the infrastructure and grants for electric vehicles.” What about your small trucks? Are you already experimenting with them? “Yes, we are really the frontrunners in the electrification of this segment, and we are in a continuous dialogue with our clients that are using them. We had done a test with the Polish Post with a 12-tonne truck, and with other companies with trucks up to 3,5 tonnes. We also offer small garbage trucks, which is a great concept for electric mobility. They are high polluters, and the distances they cover are not so big, so they are perfect for making electric. The price of the electric version is still higher, but we have solutions for that, and we are trying to convince clients to at least start tests with the electrification of their commercial vehicles.” And finally, what can you tell us about Covid-19 and how you are handling the situation at your office? “This is obviously having a big impact on what we do. We have divided the team into two groups and each week one of those groups has home office. At the beginning of each week, before they start work, all our employees are given a Covid test, which is extremely important in order to keep the virus from affecting our operations. When they test negative, they can start their work for the week. And then the week after, team B goes through the same procedure. We have plexiglass everywhere in the office, and also directions for walking, gloves, hand sanitiser machines and open windows. So we have really put all necessary measures in place. It is also a good feeling for our employees that they know all their work colleagues have been tested, and that they are negative. When it comes to salaries, we have kept them at the same level as before the Covid outbreak. Many companies have cut salaries and working time, but nothing like that has happened here. We are well aware that our employees have their own obligations with mortgages and families, so we also say we will not reduce salaries. Everybody gets their normal salary, with normal bonuses, just like in a normal situation. That is also a benefit of being part of a strong group. We can afford to do these things, and it shows that we take care of our employees.”



News and Events

Visit to the HUB and Warsaw UNIT

On 15 September, after a long break caused by the pandemic, the NPCC had the opportunity to organise its first face-to-face event since March. Thanks to Ghelamco, our members had the chance to participate in a very exciting and interesting meeting. The official part of the event was concluded with a presentation from Ghelamco’s Managing Director CEE, Jeroen van der Toolen, who shared information about the company’s future plans in the construction sector, especially in terms of creating innovative solutions in their buildings and applying special safety measures to prevent people from falling ill. Finally, the participants were treated to a selection of finger food and drinks, while also enjoying the great view from the HUB’s Sky Bar.

To ensure full safety at the event, all participants were tested on arrival and allowed to join the other guests only after receiving a negative test result. The attendees had the chance to look around the HUB – one of the most innovative office buildings in Poland – as well as the construction site of the Warsaw UNIT, where they were taken up to the building’s highest point (on the 50th floor) for a beautiful view of Warsaw and its suburbs.

International Business Mixer Online On 25 November, the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with 10 other bilateral chambers of commerce, held the annual International Speed Business Mixer. In view of the current pandemic, the event was organised online using the Venture Café platform. The virtual meeting attracted over 240 participants, making it the biggest online event jointly organised so far by the eleven IGCC members. It gave ample opportunity for company representatives to meet in these difficult times, take part in networking and introduce their business to a number of international partners.

All attendees were divided into groups of six and participated in five rounds of networking. We were delighted to be able to organise this event, and even though we cannot meet in person, we will always do our very best to provide our members with the support and opportunity of business networking. We would also like to thank our member AEGON, a company providing services in the life insurance, pension, retirement and asset management fields, for sponsoring the event.


Digital Matchmaking Mission to Poland Spotlight on the vegetarian meat industry

On 7 and 8 October, ten companies from the meat substitute industry in the Netherlands participated in an online mission to Poland. The NPCC organised matchmakings for the participants of the mission and a total of 60 tailor-made meetings with their Polish counterparts.

The trade mission was aimed at exploring the Polish market opportunities and closing deals for the participating companies. Poland has an increasing interest in vegetarian and vegan products, which can be seen by the increased number of these products in regular shops and the number of specialist restaurants in Poland. Regular restaurants and hotels in the country are also increasingly interested in placing these products on their menus. Since there is a high demand for new products, the Polish market is also an interesting landing place for producers from outside the country. The Netherlands Embassy initiated a digital mission, led by Carolien Spaans, to introduce Dutch companies in this sector to their Polish counterparts. The programme consisted of a seminar on 7 October, initiated by the Netherlands Embassy, set up by

the public relations agency 24/7 Communication and presented by Elro van den Burg, Managing Director of the NPCC. The matchmaking on the next day was organised by the team from the NPCC, with the meetings taking place in virtual breakout rooms on the video conferencing platform Zoom. During these meetings, the participants were able to meet up with the companies they had previously selected. Prior to the meetings, the NPCC team had managed to convince companies such as Biedronka and Auchan, as well as current members of the NPCC, to offer their services to companies looking to start their activities on the Polish market. For many participants, the matchmaking was an interesting introduction to the market and a very successful virtual trip to Poland, while for the NPCC it was another excellent opportunity to support Dutch companies taking their initial steps in the Polish market.



Mattèo and Carola Piano founders of Innogusto

The mission and the support of the NPCC was very helpful Innogusto, a company that develops plant based Italian restaurant quality dishes based on meat and fish alternatives without compromising on taste, was founded by Mattèo and Carola Piano. With Carola developing an interest in the Polish market due to her family roots and past visits, they decided to explore if there is any commercial interest in the market and participate in the digital mission to Poland and the matchmaking prepared by the NPCC. How do you look back at the digital mission on plant-based meat to Poland? Mattèo Piano: “I think that the mission and the support of the NPCC was very helpful. Firstly, I think it was well-organised and well-structured, so we could do a lot during the two days. We got a lot of insights, which was important, but we were also introduced to several connections that we’re still in contact with today. I would say that it was helpful for us to understand both the culture and the challenges in the market. We are now working with the information we gathered and we are developing our strategy based on that. This mission really made a difference for us.” What did you learn about the market that you didn’t know before? Carola Piano: “I was in Poland 20 years ago, but now I learned a lot of new things about the Poland of today. Of course, the culture hasn’t changed that much, although it was interesting to see the recent developments and the way Polish people eat and wine and dine these days. This was a side of the Polish market that I wasn’t aware of.” What is the most significant change in Poland that you picked up during the mission? Carola Piano: “Of course, we learned a lot about how popular vegetarian dishes and meatless meals have become in Poland nowadays. This was what the whole mission was about. We learned that since I was last in Poland, a whole new generation has started adopting new eating habits. They don’t eat lots of


‘boczek’ (bacon) anymore, or a lot of other very fatty meat. I learned that Poles prefer a healthy lifestyle and are open to trying food from different cultures.” Poland has a rich cuisine with many dishes that are also well-known abroad. Is it difficult for Dutch companies to enter the Polish food market? Mattèo Piano: “What we found out is that Italian cuisine is very popular in Poland, even more popular than in the Netherlands. Everybody we talked to, and who we introduced our Italian cuisine products to, liked it. The second thing that we didn’t know beforehand is that the biggest challenge is not the taste, but the price. And now we are trying to figure out the best products which are affordable for the Polish consumer.” Is price also an issue in the meat substitute market or is that segment different from the rest of the market? Carola Piano: “I think that, overall, price is also important for clients that are interested in meat substitute products. There are some products in the higher segment, but they are not bought en masse. People buy them because they are from Western Europe and they are curious to try them. For example, we were very surprised to find out that the brand Vivera is more expensive in Poland than in the Netherlands, so for Polish people this must be a very expensive product. But if you want to sell in large quantities, and really succeed in Poland, you have to come down to the Polish price level, otherwise you will remain a niche product.”

I remember that you prepared a special product for the Polish market – vegetarian pierogi? Was there any interest in that? Mattèo Piano: “We found out that, as a foreign company, trying to introduce a Polish product onto the Polish market is not really that credible. Maybe it’s different when you offer it as a private label or white label product. It turns out that Poles are very proud and trust their own Polish brands very much, especially when it comes to Polish cuisine.” Carola Piano: “This is also what I remember from Poland. They have their own slogan “Dobre, bo Polskie” to promote Polish products. It’s going to be hard for us to convince the Polish market when it comes to their own products. We have also seen that there are a lot of pierogi and vegan products already on the market made by Polish brands, so it would simply not be a good idea to offer this in our portfolio.” The NPCC organised a number of virtual meetings for you in Poland, with Euroser, Biedronka and Auchan. Were these meetings valuable for you? Mattèo Piano: “I would say that the meeting with Auchan was helpful. We also had a meeting with the chef from the InterContinental Hotel and we are still exploring the possibilities there as the hotel market is quite a challenge right now. We were introduced to the wholesaler that delivers to the InterContinental. With Biedronka, we didn’t have a match because they were only interested in white label products. There were very strict about that – if you want to be on our list, you have to go for private label or white label products, otherwise we are not interested. We discussed this internally after that meeting but that is simply

not our strategy, because in the end all they wanted was our recipe. We also had a conversation with Food Forward, who can bring us to the market in Poland, and that one went well, too. I would say that, except for Biedronka, we are still in contact with all the companies that we were introduced to.” And now the key question – when can we expect one of your Innogusto products in Polish shops? Mattèo Piano: “In the second half of November, we will have a conversation with the sales director of Auchan. We will present the different options and see which one will be interesting for them. We are thinking about launching a pilot project next year in a small number of stores, to see how the Polish market responds to our products. We are currently looking at different options of how to lower the price without compromising on quality. From our side, we want to find out if we fit in with Auchan’s strategy and see if there is a match, and if we can work well together.” So, there is still some working out to do? It sounds exciting. Carola Piano: “We also want to take our time and do it right. We don’t want to rush things because we want to go international. We’re working hard to create a strong brand in the Netherlands right now as well. We want to take the market in Poland very seriously.” It’s good to hear that you are focusing on quality. Mattèo Piano: “We have to, because it’s one thing is to enter the supermarkets, but another thing to stay there and grow.”



Exit 2020 2020 was a very memorable year with some very special events. I would like to share with you, in no particular order, my 20 most special moments.

Staf Beems

Entrepreneur and owner of Silesia Consulting

1. Corona What started as a Chinese accident quickly became a worldwide disaster. One aspect was that virologists became almost a permanent presence on our TV screens. Every virologist had a different opinion, leaving us with almost no hope. 2. Politics During an emergency, you hope that the leaders will step up and bring us hope. A fashionable word nowadays is ‘transparency’, but the information coming from the politicians was far from it. 3. European Union Unfortunately, we have to conclude that the European Union is a lame duck, particularly with reference to Hungary and Poland. Both countries do not agree with the budget. If you say no, we say no as well. Was Poland not the country which used to promote Solidarność? 4. Brexit Boris and his friends decided to quit, so please go and f... off. Why bother starting talks with this unreliable partner? 5. Women's Strike protests in Poland It is shameful how the Polish government and the police acted towards the women demonstrators. A government without any respect for its citizens or the freedom of public opinion in the year 2020! 6. Marcin Kolczyński I often see remarks about Polish workers in Holland. On 2 August, Marcin became a hero on the beach at Julianadorp when he saved the lives of three German children. But he paid dearly for his bravery with his own life. Holland showed its generosity, with a public appeal for a donation to his widow and her three children raising almost 350,000 euro.


7. Wars Syria is still not solved, Armenia and Azerbaijan thought it is time to fight again, and Ethiopia is the same old story. 8. Lebanon The world was shocked after the explosion but who talks about that now? 9. Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce A new name, a new layout for the magazine, and new activities in a difficult period where we cannot meet and we are condemned to Skype, Zoom or our mobiles. A compliment from my side and I think it had to be said. 10. The Vatican, Catholic Church If it were a company, I would advise it to be closed down. An organisation so rotten to the core should have no future. However, by saying sorry and/ or confessing, you no longer get the sympathy of your believers. 11. The gender issue Maybe I am too old to understand the problem, but please, in case we have to frequent each other's toilets, is it possible to close the "cabrio-toilets"? Is it too much to ask to put a roof on the toilet? 12. Immigration to Europe It is a very difficult issue but so far the European Union has proved unable to find a solution.

a doctor visit me while I was in bed during the first week. In the second week, I did not see anyone! I was not in Africa. 16. Timmermans My regular readers will know that I have a special admiration for him. In his first four years in Brussels, he promised to solve the problems with Poland (and Hungary). So far, nothing has happened and the situation in both countries is getting worse and worse. 17. The Polish presidential election To cut a long story short. PO has not learnt from the past. You should never talk about the competition, but always talk about your own product and your own plan. PiS has the best marketing specialists and they knew exactly which customers they had to please (PLN 500).

‘I do hope for a better world where we can understand and accept each other’

13. Respirators Could every country tell us what happened with all this equipment? What was the price, who was the supplier and where are they hidden? 14. IS I am asking for an international project where integration is the priority. At the end of the day, Europe should be blamed for the fact that we closed our eyes and let it happen. 15. Dutch hospitals I recently spent two months in Holland and had to be treated in a hospital – though not for Covid. Believe it or not, only once did

18. The US election It looks like Donald has lost. It looks like Biden has won. One thing that is for sure is the fact that democracy in the USA has won. Never before have so many voters exercised their right to vote. Strange that they had to choose between two – very – old men in such a country. Is it a country, by the way?

19. Epilogue I have tried to be realistic and gave a kind of a wake-up call to you and also myself. I am still healthy and I hope you are as well. Be happy. Be optimistic. Be realistic. Be nice to your family and friends. Be nice to your neighbours. Be nice to all the people working under difficult circumstances, such as in hospitals, supermarkets and small shops, and cleaning personnel. 20. I have tried to be serious, and I have tried to be critical, but I am often reminded nowadays of the song "How Deep is Your Love", written by the Bee Gees in 1977, and its well-known line, "We are living in a world of fools." As it turns out, they were fortune tellers. I wish you a Safe Christmas and a Healthy New Year. s.beems@silesiaconsulting.com

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



Piotr Bielski Director of Economic Analysis Department at Santander Bank Polska

Green transformation will help the economy

In current times, it is difficult to get a hold on where the Polish economy is actually heading. We talked to a number of companies and experts to try to understand more about the situation we currently face. One of them was Piotr Bielski, economist and director of the Economic Analysis Department at Santander Bank. economies had the biggest shares in the most exposed sectors, such as tourism, travel, entertainment or servicesrelated branches. In Poland, those sectors still have a very small share in GDP. This is not something to be very proud of during normal times, as we would probably like our tourism business to be bigger, but it was helpful in this particular situation.” We are conducting this interview in the second wave of the pandemic, where we can see that services are still hurting very much but production is picking up. “Indeed, this is true. If we look across Europe, we can see that the situation in manufacturing in many European economies, in particular those which are Poland’s biggest trading partners – Germany and also other Western European economies – has not deteriorated. As a result, we are seeing continued expansion in terms of production. The whole of Asia is no longer closed off, which is generating demand for German industry. Poland is next in this value chain, because when China buys from Germany, then Germany buys from Poland. I’m simplifying things, of course, but it’s a very important difference.”

Looking at how Poland was impacted by the first wave of coronavirus, it seems that it was somewhere in the middle of affected nations. How do you explain this? Piotr Bielski: “Poland recorded a drop of around 9% in GDP quarter-to-quarter in the second quarter of 2020, and I think that part of the reason why was that the most severely affected


During this time of Covid-19, it seems to me that it is extremely difficult for economists to make a solid prediction for the future economy. How do you make your predictions for your bank’s clients? “That’s a difficult question. During the initial stage of the pandemic, we tried to move from one scenario to several scenarios. We presented two or three scenarios as there was a huge level of uncertainty and it was very difficult to speculate.

Headquarters of Santander Bank Polska in Warsaw

A few weeks ago, we took a step back and started thinking that maybe this uncertainty has diminished. We had quite a good record over at least a few months and we thought that maybe things were moving in the right direction. However, I now see that we are not at this stage yet because the uncertainty is again much higher. We also think that this shock may last longer than initially expected. But it’s still a transitory shock which will end at some point. There are some factors that would allow the Polish economy to exit this shock, maybe even in better shape than others. The first is that Poland may benefit a lot from the underlying process of shortening the global value chains. If we are really going to experience this wave of reshoring manufacturing, for example, then Poland is likely to be one of the biggest beneficiaries as we are already a major manufacturing hub in Europe, and this position will definitely be strengthened. Secondly, a particularly important issue are the EU funds. As a result of the pandemic, Poland has managed to agree large funds again from Brussels to develop the country and rebuild once the situation has stabilised. This is a big issue because we were supposed to receive much less money in every subsequent EU budget from now on, but this has now changed completely. Thanks to the deal

agreed in July, Poland will probably receive even higher amounts than in the past. Of course, part of this money is conditional, and there is still a lot of hard work to be done by the politicians, but it’s also a very big opportunity for Poland that wouldn’t have been possible without the pandemic.” Are there other factors that will help Poland recover faster than other countries in the region? “Yes, there are. For example, there is the fact that entrepreneurs here are extremely flexible and able to adjust. In the past, whenever Europe encountered difficulties and entered a slowdown, Poland experienced what we call the “substitution effect” whereby Polish exporters and producers were able to increase their market shares in western economies. Why? Because when you are in difficulty or financial distress, you tend to look for cheaper substitutes. This applies both to consumers and to companies. It always happened that, when Europe was in a slowdown, Polish companies would increase their market shares in western countries. And we can see this is also happening right now. For example, production in the automotive sector in Poland started increasing very rapidly just after the initial pandemic shock, which was not the case in Western Europe. This is not hard proof, but it is anecdotal evidence that we are increasing our importance in western markets.”



One of the motors of the Polish economy is the purchasing power of people in Poland. What is your forecast on this particular issue?

which have not been fully used up. I think they should still have around 30-40 billion zlotys unused from the initial shields and, if it’s needed, they will probably expand that.

“I think this is going to be the biggest difference between the current crisis and previous slowdown episodes. We have quite a large population and consumers that like to spend money.

They have also declared that they are going to prop up public investments. And since I expect that private investments are going to be depressed for quite a long time, public investments are likely to be one of the ways to support the economy and exit the pandemic situation.

During slowdowns, we usually experience something we call “consumption smoothing” – the use of savings to smooth consumption during the slowdown. I’m not sure if this will be the case this time as well. First of all, the loss in household income is going to be quite significant and drastic. To be honest, this is a side effect of the fact that was no spike in unemployment as companies, encouraged by the government, decided not to get rid of people, but to cut labour costs. So, when you look at household revenues, they’ve declined rapidly and, on top of that, you have these worries because of the pandemic. I therefore think that consumption will be depressed for quite some time. There is a lot of uncertainty, companies are restructuring and they will not offer wage increases. There are some companies which may find certain niches. For example, if you are an online streaming company, you will see revenues increase because people have moved certain spending from one area to another. But overall, I don’t expect consumption to pick up quickly.” When we look at the government shields, they were quite generous. With more waves of the pandemic still to come, can the government keep this shield up? And if so, in what form? “I think they will extend the shield, which is the smart way of doing things as they have already spent a lot of money during the first wave. It wouldn’t be too clever to just abandon companies in the second wave as the first part would then have been wasted. I think they will continue the scheme, but probably not on such a big scale. The government has openly stated that the support will initially be more selective, more targeted. They still have reserves from the first shields as they were designed at certain levels

The EU money is going to be part of these plans and I think the big opportunity for Poland right now is to accelerate the green transformation. This is where a big opportunity may appear which will help the economy. So far, we have lagged behind on this in Europe.” In what way could this green transformation help the economy? “In many ways. First of all, even mechanically, if you spend lots of money on a green transformation, you will probably build a new infrastructure which is more eco-friendly. But also very importantly, and something which is in the long-term interests of Poland, you need to be more compliant with environmental standards if you want to participate in those value chains in the future. We can probably benefit from reshoring but, to do that, we need to be compliant with European environmental standards. Who will want to cooperate with Polish companies if we use a dirty energy mix? There is a growing awareness of these standards in Europe and if we don’t comply, there will be a reluctance to produce in Poland as the companies want to be socially aware. That’s in our interest. We are the largest transport power hub for Europe, but if our companies want to move goods around the continent, they need to comply with environmental standards. This also applies to producers. For the government, it is a good excuse to change their approach, resign from certain political objectives and sign up to European green objectives. And by doing this, they will get much more money.”


NL.IN.BUSINESS NL Business Hub Network – Update The next step in your business expansion – Destination Europe Businesses with an international presence are generally more resilient, innovative and productive, although the Covid-19

epidemic may make international expansion seem rather problematic currently. NLinBusiness and the NL Business Network are here to support you with all your questions and needs about expanding to Antwerp, Bucharest, Munich, London or Warsaw. Are you unsure which market to enter? Would you like a representative abroad, or the chance to discuss where the best opportunities may exist? Plan a free 30-minute consultation and we can help you take that next step! https://nlinbusiness.com/internationaal-ondernemen

Day of the Entrepreneur Day of the Entrepreneur is an initiative of MKB-Nederland which puts entrepreneurs (worldwide) in the spotlight every year. This year, we contributed by highlighting all the initiatives which took place around the world on this special day. We would like to thank you for your support and all entrepreneurs for creating growth, jobs and prosperity each and every day.

NL Business Hub Dubai accredited The Netherlands Business Council UAE in Dubai became an accredited hub in November 2020 and can now be called a network partner of NLinBusiness.

The announcement was made during the virtual NBC 2020 awards ceremony in Dubai, where 3 companies were shortlisted for the NLinBusiness Food Award for their contribution to feeding the world while minimising the use of natural resources and taking the local environment into account. The three companies concerned were Ridder Group, Protifarm and Certhon. The NBC 2020 Awards celebrate Dutch innovations that have a positive impact on our planet. Do you want to know more about the network of NL Business Hubs? For further information about our network, please visit www.nlinbusiness.com

Events & Activities Do you want to know more about NLinBusiness and/or doing business in Poland? For more information about our platform, visit www.nlinbusiness. com or get in touch with one of the International Business Managers at NLinBusiness.


Annemarie Dijkman annemarie@nlinbusiness.com

Sponsored Article

Michał Jakubowski Head of Corporate Business at Aegon Poland

Safety is the basis of Employee Benefits The coronavirus pandemic has changed not only our way of life, but also our needs and values. We now value safety and health more and more in life, and this is having an impact on the expectations of people employed in companies towards employee benefits.

Group life insurance has therefore become a real asset for employers on the labor market today. It is a product that has found a permanent place in the range of benefits for employees offered by employers. In this era of strong competition for the best employees, where companies are concerned about their image and employer branding, employee benefits are an extremely important tool for competing on the labor market. It is enough to view the job offers on the most popular portals – in most of them, in addition to the requirements and job description, employers also mention the various additional privileges and services they offer their employees. These often include group life insurance, increasingly financed by the employers as policyholders. Group life insurance is at the forefront of employee benefits offered by employers. According to a recent study published by Sedlak & Sedlak, more than 37% of employers offer it, including the majority of medium-sized and large employers. Where does this popularity come from? Group insurance is probably the only mass life insurance that is so common. The advantage of this form of insurance is that it still has a much lower price than for individual insurance, which is quite a significant argument for choosing group insurance and may be the first step for many people towards protecting themselves and their family. They have recently been expanded or updated with new elements, contracts or services but there is still more room in the group policy market, and new proposals are appearing that show that a group policy for employees can be approached in an unusual, creative and open manner, meeting the individual needs of individual employees. For many years, group life insurance

was perceived as a solution functioning in large enterprises. However, insurers have also noticed the potential in small and medium-sized enterprises that have developed dynamically in recent years. As a result, group insurance is also available today for a small family business, even one employing only a few people. Today, more and more people expect group insurance not only to pay out benefits, but also to provide real help for times of need, such as a doctor's consultation, diagnosis, access to medical services or subsequent rehabilitation. Instead of so-called ‘Fruit Tuesdays’, restaurant discount cards or gym passes, employees are beginning to appreciate more solutions that can help in a difficult life situation, including health. And a life insurance policy is a good, perhaps the best, answer to these expectations nowadays. Remote is easier In many companies, we have observed changes in the way they handle employee matters, as well as HR and payroll matters. For many years, employees, as well as people dealing with HR matters, were used to the fact that most of these issues involved the need to keep paper documentation. But that is also now changing. Processes are being digitized in HR departments, and the pandemic has merely accelerated this change. In many companies, employees have switched to remote working, either wholly or in part. In such conditions, digital service platforms make work much easier. Today, if an employer does not want to meet the insurer in person in the process of implementing and servicing group insurance and does not want to use paper, they have that option. Thanks to the use of advanced, but easyto-use, systems and supporting tools, the company has the possibility of joining the insurance scheme electronically without the need to fill out and sign paper declarations. The entire day-to-day service of group policies is carried out via applications, which is a measurable benefit but also saves time. Not only for people from HR and accounting departments, but also for the employees themselves, who can perform all the activities related to joining a group policy or its subsequent service remotely, while working from home. When offering group insurance to your employees, therefore, you really need to move with the times and look for modern solutions – like in Aegon Poland Life Insurance!



Reset Ever since Covid-19 started to define our new structure and conditions of life, I have developed the habit of leaving my home once a day, for at least an hour. I am going for a walk to catch some outside air and reset my thoughts. I know that normally we would say ‘to catch some fresh air’, but living in a country powered by coke means we should be careful using that phrase…

Huub Droogh is an urbanist and partner at RDH Urban in Poznań

I walk from my Poznań city centre apartment, via a park and the Warta river banks, towards the island of Ostrów Tumski. This is the island where Poland’s first historically recorded ruler, King Mieszko I, was baptised in 996, which led to the Christianisation of the Polish state. Over the centuries, the island of Ostrów Tumski became the exclusive domain of the Catholic church, with the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and the Archbishops’ Palace prominent ‘institutional corporate calling cards’ (another calling card, the seminary of Ostrów Tumski, is due a major scandal related to the sexual abuse of clerics in 2002 better not to mention). Since the end of October, the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul has been under police protection, probably as a result of the disruption of a mass by protesters against the latest PiS anti-abortion regulations.

During the mass, the protesters asked the church to respect the separation of church and state, and not to interfere in politics. It is, of course, rather ironic that since that moment, taxpayers’ money has been spent on protecting the institution of the church, which doesn’t pay taxes due to its claimed extraordinary, independent position in society. As I cross the island, I mainly feel sorry for the two police officers in their patrol car, waiting for nothing. I imagine their frustration, knowing that their presence would be much more useful in other places around the city. They are perfectly aware that their presence is merely symbolic. It is probably a gesture from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration in response to an ‘old boys’ network phone call’ from the bishop who lives in the palace opposite the cathedral.


Walk after walk, when I am confronted with the sad sight of a police car waiting senselessly in an empty square, this view has become a symbol for me of the stage that the Polish Catholic church is at. Poland is a country where 93% of its inhabitants profess themselves to be Catholic. When Jarosław Kaczyński, in one of his speeches during the recent protests, asked ‘real Catholics’ to protect their churches from other Catholics, he underlined de facto the moral bankruptcy of the Polish Catholic church as an independent institution. Polish society by itself will never attack a church and Kaczyński knows this. His speech was another attempt to divide Polish society, and to safeguard what is left of his own position. For him, the Catholic church is just an instrument he can abuse to achieve this aim. With some friends, you don’t need enemies, and I am wondering if all Catholic authorities were grateful to hear his appeal. I continue my walk in the direction of Poznań’s historic city centre. Crossing the Warta river, I realise that Poland’s Catholic church as institute isn’t alone in its moratorium stage. The recent presidential election in the USA shows another example how big some of the moral and institutional problems of the western world have grown.

in the USA – and maybe even its democratic system – was partially saved by the last-minute interventions of private broadcasters and private technology companies like Facebook and Twitter.

They realised just in time that having power also means taking responsibility. This shows how important it is that entrepreneurs have a notion of the world they are doing business in, and choose their position when the time is right. I head home, passing Poznań’s administrative town hall on my way. Maybe there is still some hope for the future? The local state authorities in the USA, which were responsible for the operational execution of the election, didn’t allow themselves to be intimidated during the critical phase of the process and they continued counting the votes despite the orders of their president. The US constitution gave the ‘lower courts’ the necessary tools to legitimise their decision.

‘Maybe there is still some hope for the future?’

Europe’s relief about ‘president-elect Biden’ cannot hide the fact that 70 million voters in the USA chose the nationalistic populistic alternative, in line with the election results in countries like the United Kingdom, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Brazil, and others. Despite the proven lies of the populistic Republican political leader, and despite the lessons of history, a manipulated minority has again paved the way for mobilising a large crowd in favour of someone who has unscrupulously divided that society to seize power. I pass through the Chwaliszewo district, which in the past was a bastion of small entrepreneurship and trade. The election

Together with those of the other major Polish cities, Poznań’s local authorities have actively resisted the further attack on the Polish constitution, despite the price they are having to pay for it (for those open to a little more irony: Poznań’s town hall is located in a former Jesuit monastery). Maybe local democracy reflects in a more healthy way the value of our democratic system due to the fact that the distance between the voters and authority is less abstract? I am almost home. It was a good walk, and it turns out that it was a day with clean air, after all. Covid-19 has forced me to make some healthy changes to my lifestyle. Maybe we need some healthy changes as a society as well? To make the traffic light on my street turn green for pedestrians, I have to push a button. It’s a pity society doesn’t also have its own ‘reset’ button.

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



Agnieszka Hipś CEO of the CLIP Group in Swarzędz

CLIP Terminal in Swarzędz keeps expanding further Bulletin talked to Agnieszka Hipś, CEO of the CLIP Group in Swarzędz, which was recently recognised as the best logistics centre in Poland. We discussed Covid-19, intermodal transport and the Silk Road… is no way to interfere in that process. The reviewing is done by professionals and the procedure is completely secret to everybody outside the organisation. That’s why we are delighted that we were ranked so highly on this list, and as the best Polish organisation. We are very pleased and proud to be recognised by this prestigious organisation as the best logistics centre in Poland.” What does this mean to your organisation? “For us, it is proof of the appreciation not only of what we have built today, but also of the choices we have made in the past and the work we have done over the years to get to this stage. One of the foundations of our success was re-investing the profits that were generated in the past with the aim of innovating and introducing new solutions, and not just sitting back and enjoying our successes. The state visit of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima to Poland in 2014, their first foreign visit, was an event not quickly forgotten by many. And especially not by the owners, staff and partners of the CLIP Terminal in Swarzędz. During their visit, the royal couple looked around the terminal, admired the state of the logistics centre and opened the intermodal connection from Swarzędz to the port of Rotterdam.

We wanted to be frontrunners in the intermodal transport sector and therefore we re-invested our profits and developed many modern warehouse facilities at our logistics centre. We also developed many projects related to ecology and ecological solutions. We wanted to concentrate many services at our centre and in so doing we have become very self-sufficient,

Six years on, it’s hard to believe that it’s the same piece of land. Many modern new warehouses have been built by CLIP, while the terminal has also been expanded further, with lots of state-ofthe-art new facilities being established there. For those who are familiar with this location, it will be no big surprise that the CLIP Group was recently recognised as the best logistics centre in Poland by the prestigious German GVZ transport association. Did this recognition come as a surprise to you? Agnieszka Hipś: “Yes, it did. The GVZ transport association is a very well-regarded organisation in Germany. The lists that they publish are created with care and distinction, and there


Visit of the Netherlands King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima to the Clip Terminal

Clip operates several weekly trains from China via the Brześć – Terespol border crossing to their terminal and vice versa

which enables us to maintain a high level of quality and offer the best service. We now have a very broad spectrum of logistics services, from automotive logistics, and warehousing, through to our intermodal terminal and multimodal transport solutions. All that allows us to build an offer that meets the requirements of even the most demanding customers.” How did you operate during the Covid-19 pandemic? What was your approach? “The CLIP Group has had to deal with all the difficulties and problems that have appeared during the pandemic crisis and that have also affected all other market participants in the logistics sector. However, our approach was to identify the areas where we could introduce our innovative concepts and use the challenges of Covid-19 in a positive way. Once we realised that there were more and more limitations for the existing logistics chains based on traditional road transport, limitations such as the shortage of truck drivers due to the sanitary pandemic restrictions or extended waiting time at the border crossings due to the new pandemic procedures, we accelerated our actions towards operating the new international trains dedicated for semi-trailers. We launched a regular railway service between Swarzędz and Duisburg. At present, we run those trains four times a week and, each time, the train is loaded with 36 trailers in one direction, meaning that the clients get the perfect solution for any problems related to truck driver availability, health security, working hours and waiting time, etc.

We also launched another international railway connection dedicated for both intermodal and standard trailers between our CLIP Terminal and Luxembourg. Due to the problems related to the uncertainty in the market caused by the first wave of the pandemic, this connection has been temporarily suspended. However, we are continuing to work towards re-activating this connection very soon, which will most likely take place within the coming weeks. So, in this case, the old truth was confirmed – new problems bring new opportunities.” What are the current new technical trends that you have implemented and what are the cost benefits of that compared to road transport? “The latest technical solution that we have implemented at the CLIP Intermodal Terminal in Swarzędz is the Lohr Railway System. This is a modern technology, patented and proven in operation, allowing for the horizontal loading of standard road semi-trailers onto railway wagons without the need for a crane. It has been used in intermodal transport for over a dozen years, mainly between France and Italy, and now it is also available in Poland. “It is the first installation of this type not only in Poland, but also in any European country east of the Bettembourg – Orbassano near Turin axis. What is unique is that the system allows for the loading of wagons with semi-trailers, which due to their construction parameters cannot be lifted vertically using a reach stacker or overhead crane. Semi-trailers of this type still make up the vast majority of trailers operated by road carriers throughout Europe.




relationship with them. We are a container depot for different Chinese customers, helping them with the delivery and arrangement of the containers.

The Lohr Railway System allows for horizontal loading of semi-trailers onto railway wagons without the need for a crane

“Other important advantages of the Lohr Railway System are the short loading and unloading times, the possibility of loading and unloading many wagons at the same time and the lack of the need to use additional reloading devices.”

As a train operator, which is a new role for us, we are already recognised in the EU market as the railway transportation solutions provider for our customers. Since we have our own wagons, we can help our partners to build up their own dedicated trains, thus enhancing the diversity of our services. At the moment, we are ready to help more and more Chinese companies to arrange transportation within the EU. With our comprehensive services as well as with our location at the intersection of 2 TENT corridors, right along the main European railway line E20 – Paris – Beijing we believe that CLIP will be the perfect hub for the future plans of the China-Europe Express. Therefore we are preparing the launch of the regular daily container train from Swarzędz to Rotterdam and to some other ports in Benelux countries.

What is the impact of this system on the operations of the CLIP Terminal? “The installation of the Lohr Railway System is the next step in the modernisation of the CLIP Intermodal Terminal, and it is nothing short of a real innovation. It is a step that will have a significant impact on the development of the entire intermodal transport sector. Thanks to that, CLIP Intermodal will expand the loading capacity of the train to Luxembourg by also creating an offer for customers using standard trailers in their fleet. In the future, it will be possible to run trains to other European destinations equipped with the Lohr Railway System, such as Calais and Barcelona. The connection between the CLIP Terminal and Luxembourg, and further with Spain, will enable the creation of one of the longest intermodal routes in Europe.” With the ever-increasing trade between Europe and Asia, can you tell us more about the Silk Road connection from Poland to China and how CLIP is involved in that? “We are already active in the Belt & Road Initiative. We operate several trains per week that are transporting containers from China via the Brześć – Terespol border crossing to our terminal and vice versa. CLIP performs two very important roles when we talk about the Silk Road connection: we offer terminal services and we are also a train operator. As the destination terminal for Xiamen and Chongqing, China, we stabilised the business together with our partners. And we maintain a good

Part of the terminal where the headquarters of the Clip Group are located

We are striving to reactivate the diverse multimodal traffic which we dealt with a few years ago. Those renewed container trains will be completing the existing prosperous railway daily service dedicated for trailers. We are proud to say that, when all the European trains were affected by the lockdown situation, our trains from Xiamen were not reduced, quite opposite the number actually increased. We appreciate that our partners and customers trusted us, which gave us the chance to show them that CLIP is the best choice. In the future, we hope that we will continue to be known as a friendly EU traffic hub, always welcome to new possibilities and providing the best services to our partners.”



Sponsor Article

Rent long-term, and go where the current takes you Electromobility is now playing an increasingly prominent role, and permeating the consumer and business consciousness. The range of electric vehicles available is continually expanding, and also becoming increasingly attractive. The Polish Alternative Fuels Association (Polskie Stowarzyszenie Paliw Alternatywnych – PSPA) and the Polish Automotive Industry Association (Polski Związek Przemysłu Motoryzacyjnego – PZPM) say that there are currently almost 15,000 electric passenger cars registered in Poland. Interestingly, just under half of them were registered in the first few months of 2020. Electric delivery and heavy goods vehicles are also increasing in number (currently 561). We have also seen a steady increase in the number of charging stations for electric vehicles, up to approximately 1,300. According to PSPA estimates, the market for the electric vehicle charging points private network has the potential to reach 80–100,000 charging points by 2025. In addition, there are now more than 100 electric passenger car and delivery vehicle models on the Polish market (according to the PSPA report of November 2020) so there is quite a selection to choose from.

More electrics, but few incentives Analysts have forecast that the proportion of electric vehicles will continue to increase steadily. Many Western European countries have now introduced incentives to purchase electric vehicles, mostly in the form of tax exemptions and relief, but also with direct subsidies towards the purchase of a vehicle. Electromobility is becoming more popular in Poland as well, but this growth has been hampered primarily by prices that are considerably higher than those of conventional vehicles, with no substantial funding provided by the state. A scheme is being developed to provide direct funding for the purchase of vehicles,


although it is modelled on ones currently existing in other European countries. The solution for companies that wish to include electric vehicles in their fleet, therefore, is rental. Rental solution It is clearly economical to include electric vehicles in your company fleet. “Maintenance costs are lower, and components run more cheaply than in conventional vehicles. Also, in the city, vehicles that are fully electric are allowed in bus lanes and they are entitled to free parking,” points out Aleksander Laskowski, Hitachi Capital Mobility Acquisition & Partnership Manager. Electric vehicles are also becoming more practical in everyday conditions as the batteries have greater capacity, thus extending the distance the vehicle can cover per battery charge. The average range of most electric vehicles for passenger use is currently approximately 380 km, though the latest models even have a range of 400‒500 km. Another important advantage of electric vehicles is the driving pleasure they provide, offering better torque performance and being very quiet inside. Above all, though, the companies that are beginning to use electric vehicles are doing so on account of the benefits for the environment. Test one out and see for yourself Hitachi Capital Polska, is currently running its Grand Electric Vehicle Test (Wielki Test Pojazdów Elektrycznych) under the slogan We are switching to electromobility (Włączamy elektromobilność). This will enable customers to observe how suited zero-emission vehicles are to their business. There is also an awareness-raising and advisory element to the campaign, with the company’s knowledgeable employees able to offer advice to customers on the optimal solutions for their particular business. Hitachi Capital Polska vehicles have now been tested by Poczta Polska and Żabka, the SPAR, Neonet and Amtra. The RTV Euro AGD chain has also followed suit, testing van for use in its day-to-day deliveries. Long-term electric vehicle rental also comes with a full range of maintenance services and insurance, but above all a good deal on the payments. Transformation of the transportation sector in this way requires knowledge and a change to the habits of companies and drivers. For this reason, Hitachi Capital Polska is taking a number of measures to raise awareness of electromobility. We have no doubt that this is the right way forward for the development of the automotive sector, and what we have to offer will meet the requirements of customers today,” adds Tomasz Piekarski, Hitachi Capital Polska CCO. More information on hitachicapital.pl


Members Duynie Duynie Feed specialises in co-products, 100% natural, highly palatable and consistently of high quality. We are proud to deliver sustainable feed solutions to livestock (ruminants and monogastrics) across Europe. Duynie Feed contributes to both a sustainable and increased financial result for your business, combined with a positive contribution to circular agriculture. When crops such as cereals, vegetables and fruit are processed, some of the plant is used for food products for direct human consumption while other parts are used for nutritious animal feed. Duynie Feed, part of Duynie Group, is the largest company in Europe dedicated to managing and unlocking the value of co-products, with over 50 years’ experience and an unrivalled reputation for quality and excellence. Duynie Feed provides a complete solution for all materials left over from food manufacturing processes. We take full responsibility for removing co-products on time, every time, removing the risk of unplanned stoppages and ensuring full business continuity. Duynie sp. z o. o. Jeździecka 19, 53-032 Wrocław +48 718 811 200 info@duynie.pl, www.duynie.pl

Von Zanthier & Dachowski Operating since 1995, the VON ZANTHIER & DACHOWSKI law firm is an interdisciplinary, project-managed firm based in Poznań. We offer comprehensive legal, tax & accountancy advice to leading Polish and international companies, including in particular investors from the Netherlands and Germany at all stages of their business activities. VON ZANTHIER & SCHULZ and its employees and associates are regularly recommended and honoured in branch rankings and statements of tax advisory firms, including in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 by the prestigious FOCUS-Spezial magazine “Steuerberater”, as one of the best tax advisory firms in the fields of international tax law and business economics consulting. The law firm is a member of the NPCC, DIRO, LAWASIA, League of Lawyers, GermanPolish Wind Energy Club e.V., IDV of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Steuerberaterverband Berlin Brandenburg, “Offensive Mittelstand – Gut für Deutschland” and DWK. Von Zanthier & Dachowski Garbary 56 61-758 Poznań +48 61 85 82 55 0 poznan@vonzanthier.com www.vonzanthier.com/pl/o-nas

Santander Bank Santander Bank Polska Group is one of the largest financial groups and the largest private bank in Poland. Santander Bank Polska offers financial solutions to personal customers, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and domestic and international corporations. The Bank operates one of the biggest networks of branches and partner outlets. It also renders services via electronic channels, including mobile banking. The Bank has been a member of the international Santander Group since 2011. The subsidiaries of Santander Bank Polska Group offer investment funds, brokerage services, insurance, leasing and factoring. Santander Bank Dutch Desk Manager – Agnieszka Schütte agnieszka.schutte@santander.pl www.santander.pl

Yameo Yameo has been present on the market for over 15 years. Our competencies and know-how in the area of IT projects development and business consulting enable us to be active on three continents – North America, Europe and Africa. We create projects of various scope and profile, responding to our customers’ individual needs. These are extended IT systems for both back and front-end solutions and mobile applications. Our main focus in cooperation is to have a long-lasting stable partnership, and not only one-time collaboration. The foundations of our relations are trust and transparency, as well as an understanding and analysis of our partner’s needs. We approach each project individually and deliver it by paying particular attention to high quality, diligence and precision of the implementation. The nearshore model we apply enables us to enjoy cooperation with highly qualified foreign partners. Yameo Piastowska 11 80-320 Gdańsk +48 503 919 962 www.yameo.eu



from the Embassy Digital Conference on Circular Business Models 2020 Circular Business Models conference proved that there is a lot more to be done in the coming years. More and more companies start understanding the idea of the circular economy and apply circular strategies in their organisations. CBM can be implemented both in new enterprises and existing ones. Large number of participants (200) proves that there is a lot of interest, willingness and profitability in this area. Guest speakers from leading Dutch companies (ING, Signify, Żywiec, Van Werven Plastics, Desch Planpak IPP and BlueFifty) shared their experiences.

Closing the cycle in Agriculture – sustainable energy in greenhouses and animal production Held alongside the circular models seminar were 2 webinars on energy in agriculture, both aimed at farmers directly. The 1st webinar tackled circular and climatefriendly energy sources that can be used in greenhouse production, since ‘traditional’

The Embassy’s first Digital Mission on Plant-based Products In the 1st week of October, the Embassy organised a mission to Poland on plant-based products and alternative protein products. The event included a matchmaking session organised by the NPCC and a webinar which highlighted the following key points: Polish consumers spend 25% of their income on food and that is why price is one of the crucial factors for consumer choices in Poland.

The challenges of tomorrow – Offshore Wind Energy Mission 2020 The Embassy, in cooperation with the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO) and the Wind Energy Associations in Poland and the Netherlands, organised a digital trade mission for the Dutch offshore wind energy sector on 10 and 11 December. Read more about this topic in the next edition of NPCC bulletin. The Economic Department and Agricultural Department wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, productive and not too digital 2021!!


A number of successful new kids on the block also showed up, incl. CooLoo, MUD Jeans, Waterweg and Ecor Europe. They showed that changing to circular models is not only possible, but also resource-friendly and good for sales. By providing a platform for exchanging experiences, we hope to have given companies a push in the right direction. If you missed the conference, you can watch a recording of it (check LinkedIn and YouTube).

sources like wind energy or PV panels are often not suitable for that kind of production. The 2nd one tackled the issue of the stability of renewable energy achieved by a hybrid installation of PV panels in combination with small windmills. In addition, the benefits from biogas installations were presented as Poland has great potential for this energy source. Both webinars stressed the role of energy savings as they can help to increase the companies’ energy profit by as much as 30%! Both webinars are still available online.

Polish consumers are also increasingly eager to eat more diverse food, without necessarily thinking of becoming strict vegetarians. It is enough to try something new and trendy. And vege food is definitely a hot trend in Poland right now. Although the Polish market is currently quite small, now is exactly the right moment to enter as the market is not yet saturated. You can read more findings on the market here.

To stay updated on the upcoming events of the Embassy’s Economic Department, check out our LinkedIn page and follow us at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nlinpoland Details about the Embassy’s agriculture-related events are published on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. See the country page for Poland at: https://www.agroberichtenbuitenland.nl/ landeninformatie/polen


from the Embassy

A nuclear reactor of creativity and innovation Redbad Klynstra-Komarnicki is a Dutch-Polish actor and stage director. He studied drama in Poland and has lived in Poland since the 1990s. Redbad has appeared in several Polish and Dutch films, television series and theatre productions. As of 1 September 2020, he has been working as the director of Teatr im. Juliusza Osterwy in Lublin. The Embassy held this interview with him while he was in self-isolation. them to leave the doors to their rooms open, and I invited them to take part in cross-departmental project groups. It seems to be working and – as far as I can see – it has been received with enthusiasm. We have a working group on fundraising and another on a new approach towards the public. We have also started a digital transformation, as no matter what happens after Covid, we will not go back to ‘the old situation’. New technology and new media are a necessity, as well as benefits, for theatre in the 21st century.

Redbad Klynstra-Komarnicki: "It’s heartwarming to have received so many good wishes, even from people I haven’t heard from in a long time. I never realised that the title ‘Director’ would open so many doors, at least in terms of the number of proposals for cooperation I have received. Being director of the Osterwa Theatre is a prestigious position, but I never expected that it would mean suddenly finding myself on the guest list for the opening of the ‘Academic Year’. The Osterwa Theatre is traditionally perceived as a meeting place for local institutions, policy-makers and the general public. It is more than a theatre; it has a social function. And it’s part of the job to engage with the local community. At first, I had to concentrate on my team of 118 people. My experience as an actor was useful for me in understanding the needs of the actors. I know what is important for them as I’ve been there! As a stage director, I have worked with large groups before, managing 50-60 people in a production: artists, technicians, logistics, etc. You can say that a stage director is a project manager. It’s challenging – and actually very interesting – to get involved with the administration department, which was organised in a very hierarchical manner. I am a big fan of the horizontal way of working, inspired by Ricardo Semler, and I advocated his approach in organisational structures during my coaching workshops on intercultural integration. Flat structures, partnership, common trust and responsibility, instead of me signing for every roll of toilet paper we have to buy. The potential of my team is outstanding. They are highly skilled experts with a lot of knowledge and experience, though somewhat stuck in a box. I want to draw them out of it. I told

In the end, it is all about ‘what happens on the stage’. The theatre has always been an important art form in Poland, with the existential theatre of Tadeusz Kantor and Jerzy Grotowski having a huge influence on international productions. It is a pity that Polish theatre nowadays tends to copy what is happening in France and Germany, or even the Netherlands. Let me explain: Dutch theatre is in general socially engaged – it questions the establishment and maintains a critical view on the way things are in our ‘perfectly organised country’. Poland is a different case, however. The process of building the country, which started 30 years ago, is still going on. I would expect Polish theatre to add to this process. To construct and not to deconstruct. So I would like the Osterwa to maintain its patron’s mission – reaching out to the public, content-wise as well as logistically, and taking productions to markets, local festivals and more non-obvious places. Feeding the public with vital questions which everybody has to answer for themselves, and stimulating individualism rather than conformity. The Osterwa is the only theatre in Lublin with a classical repertoire, and it’s my intention to continue that tradition by staging Polish and international classics. Lublin is a melting pot: thriving culturally with a good infrastructure and universities, with multicultural traditions and a unique cross-border location. It has become a centre of independent theatre and dance and freed itself from Warsaw’s shadow. The Osterwa Theatre has a lot to offer. It’s a theatre where interdisciplinary projects can be conceived, a theatre ready to partner up with business. It is a nuclear reactor of creativity and innovation. What is the future for the Osterwa Theatre? A theatre fund, production house and network for the performing arts. If we can achieve this for the region, than maybe it can work around the country as well?" www.teatrosterwy.pl www.facebook.com/redbadklynstrakomarnicki



Electric Vehicle Test Drive

Mazda enters the EV market with the MX-30 We have seen quite a few new electric models entering the EV market recently, some of them from manufacturers with no previous experience in that area. The Mazda MX-30 is one such example. This is an important car for Mazda, which has a history of producing large capacity petrol engine vehicles. But is it a real rival for the Mini Electric, the Renault Zoe or even the Kia e-Niro?


The MX-30 has a relatively modest 35.5 kWh battery, which gives it a range of 200 km. The electric engine produces 146 HP and takes the Mazda from 0-100 km/h in 9.7 seconds. The standard kit includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera and automatic lights and wipers. Inside there is a 7-inch dial display, a head-up display and a 7-inch touchscreen for climate control. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also come as standard.

the car feels really well built

In terms of design, Mazda appears to be taking an evolutionary approach rather than creating any kind of new electric-specific design language. In fact, from the front, it looks very similar to the petrol-powered CX-30, though with a slightly less prominent grill since it doesn’t need to send cool air to the engine. From its profile, it again looks quite like a CX-30 with a kind of tapering, or coupe-like, roofline. At the back, it has a similar set of lights and if it wasn’t for the badges and the lack of an exhaust pipe, you would forget that these are two different models. It’s when we go to the doors that the real difference starts. Getting into the MX-30, the first thing you notice is that it has a similar set of rear doors to those on the BMW i3. In reality, they may be the cause of some frustration. It is difficult to access the rear seats without pushing the driver’s seat or front passenger seat forward first, and the back seats also feel quite dark, especially since the windows cannot be opened. From the inside, the car feels really well built. It has recycled plastic bottles in the door trim and cork on the central console. And you get loads of extras in the standard trim sets. At the

an easy car to drive

higher trim levels, you get electric seats, a sunroof and a 12-speaker Bose stereo. It’s a shame that the car is not exactly practical, but the aspect that will generate the biggest criticism is the range, which is only around 200 km. This falls around 30 km shy of the Mini Electric and is only half as far as a Renault Zoe can go before it needs a charge. Mazda says that this is the best compromise between the environmental costs of producing the cells and the benefit for the consumer. Speaking of plugging in, Mazda says that charging from a home wallbox will take around 6 hours, though a 50 kW rapid charge can take the battery up to around 80% capacity in about 36 minutes. While the MX-30 is obviously a front-wheel-drive electric car, it seems fair to draw parallels to the rear-wheel-drive petrolpowered MX-5 Roadster, and it does feel remarkably similar to that car behind the wheel. It’s a little softer than the Mini Electric, but not as much fun to drive. While the Mini will bounce you around with plenty of grip, the Mazda takes things a little bit easier. It is very quiet, however, and an easy car to drive. For many, the limited range will be the biggest downside. Mazda puts it as 200 km but, in reality, it is probably closer to 150 km. And if you drive it hard, it is closer to 100 km. We were advised to charge the batteries to no more than 80% capacity, which

was just enough to travel from the district of Wołomin to the NPCC office in Warsaw and back again, with one additional stop in the city centre. This is fine if you can plug it in at home or at work, but for many people that is just not possible. And the idea of finding a public charging point every 80 or 100 km is something of a sticking point. The Renault Zoe, which offers double the Mazda’s driving range, is a far more sensible bet in this regard. Overall, the Mazda MX-30 looks and feels very good. The interior especially, due to its eco and sustainable materials, just feels very modern and high tech. But although they make the car look impressive, we find it difficult to forgive and forget the short driving range, especially here in Poland with its still limited number of charging points. However, if the MX-30 does fit your lifestyle, it is an easy one to recommend. But you should definitely make sure that’s the case before taking the plunge.



Independence day I am writing this on 11 November 2020, the day we can commemorate the reappearance of the Polish nation on the map of Europe 102 years ago. It should be a joyous day, when political differences are set aside, but a long time ago this day was hijacked by the ultra-nationalists of the ONR.

Remco van der Kroft Advocaat (Dutch licensed lawyer) and partner of Olczak-Klimek Van der Kroft Węgiełek

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor of Warsaw had not given permission for the march, but that didn’t stop an angry mob of Coviddeniers (with no masks on) making the centre of Warsaw look like a war zone. They set fire to a flat just because on a balcony two floors above there was a banner bearing the logo of the Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet (Polish Women’s Strike) and a Pride flag. But their fireworks couldn’t reach that high. We also witnessed a true battle between these “patriots” and the police outside the Empik store on the corner of Nowy Świat.

Just another day in the new Poland. For those who still had doubts about me crying murder about what the government has been doing to the independence of the Polish judiciary, we have now all seen why PiS needed to have control of the Constitutional Tribunal: introducing controversial legislation whilst the politicians try to wash their hands of the matter. Poland already had one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, which allowed abortion on three grounds only. Firstly, when the life of the mother is endangered; secondly, when there is a high probability of a severe and incurable foetal impairment or an incurable life-threatening disease; and lastly, when there is a serious suspicion that the pregnancy was the result of a prohibited act (i.e. rape). This last case hardly ever applies on account of the very narrow definition of rape in Poland. The Constitutional Tribunal, under the leadership of one of Jarosław Kaczyński’s favourite home cooks, has now decided that the second reason is not compatible with the Polish Constitution. This is basically what PiS


wanted to introduce into law a few years ago but the famous black umbrella protest put a stop to it. This time as well, the decision was followed by mass protests, mainly by young people. However, this time there is no way back. A parliamentary decision can always be vetoed by the president, but a decision of one of the three highest courts in the land cannot be reversed – or can it? Ironically, the Polish government is now applying the same tactic that it used against a decision of the Constitutional Court in 2015 (the ruling that stated that two PiS-appointed judges were not legally appointed; they are now known as the “doubles”), i.e. by not publishing it. Officially, court decisions become binding as of the date of publication, but needless to say this was never meant to be a means for the prime minister to overrule the Constitutional Tribunal. And ignoring the presence of a ruling does not just make it go away.

In the meantime, we are in the midst of the second coronavirus wave in Poland. During the summer, government politicians were too busy bickering among themselves about the cabinet reshuffle that made Kaczyński come out of his Żoliborz closet as deputy prime minister in charge of supervising Mr. Ziobro.

‘However, this time there is no way back’

So, obviously, there was no time to prepare the hospitals for a second wave. Luckily, they did manage to find the money to order 308 new government limos, some EU Covid-19 funds to buy 2,500 flagpoles and PLN 1.7 million to translate a 10-volume Polish Encyclopaedia of Philosophy into English.

So now, finally, the whole world will learn that “feminism propagates full gender equality, negating biological differences.” Of course, we don’t want that in the Polish Republic.

The only way out would be if PiS were to finally respect the 2015 decision and acknowledge that the composition of the court was illegal with the two doubles. In addition, Ms. Pawłowicz should have recused herself as she had previously co-signed a similar petition to the Tribunal.

Since money does not seem to be an issue for the government, it makes all the sense in the world to block the EU budget in an attempt to reverse the decision of the EU Parliament and Commission to make EU funds dependent on adherence to the rule of law.

If nothing else, what this all shows is that PiS has no respect for the judiciary, even the one they appointed themselves.

If you can’t use EU funds to buy flagpoles or limousines, why would you even need them?

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


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