Polish-British Belvedere Forum.


The 4th Polish-British Belvedere Forum took place on 3-4 March 2020 in London. Originally created in 2017, the Belvedere Forum is the most important non-governmental platform for Polish-British dialogue, that is attended by representatives of civil society, politicians, entrepreneurs, experts, scientists and NGOs from both countries. The goal of the Forum is to strengthen mutual relations through debates and discussions on political, economic and social issues. This year’s Forum was organized by two think tanks: Chatham House – Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Polish Institute of International Affairs. The forum was chaired by prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, and on the British side by Sir Malcolm Rifkind. The European Business Club Poland was represented by its President, Mr. Janusz Cieślak.

Janusz Cieślak, President of EBC Poland and prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, co-chairman of the Steering Committee of the Belvedere Forum.
Janusz Cieślak, President of EBC Poland and prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, co-chairman of the Steering Committee of the Belvedere Forum.

The theme of the plenary session of the first day of the Forum was “Poland and the United Kingdom: bilateral ties in a changing political context” with an attempt to address the issues:

  • how Brexit will affect British-Polish relations;
  • how this relationship can be maintained and deepened in the future.

On the second day of the Forum, the main topic that was raised during the plenary session was “Sovereignty and Identity in Great Britain and Poland”. Also, much attention was paid to how the European Union will look like without Great Britain and how their relations will look like. The Minister for European Affairs, Konrad Szymański, who was present at the Forum, said that in Brussels there is a widespread belief that without Great Britain, which was inhibiting integration, managing the Union will be simple, but this belief – as he emphasized – is wrong. Szymański thinks that the EU faces the need to answer very serious questions – about the future of the economic model in a situation of increasingly stronger protectionist tendencies, about the scope of its responsibility for matters outside its borders and about the budget, because its reduction, which some countries strive for, means – as Szymański emphasized –  reducing the role of the Union.

Janusz Cieślak, President of EBC Poland and Konrad Szymański, Minister for European Union.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former member of Margaret Thatcher and John Major governmets, co-chairman of the Belvedere Forum Steering Committee, said there was no desire, either in the British government, in the Conservative Party, or in the UK, for the EU fragmentation. For the same reasons that Winston Churchill called for the unification of Europe in 1946, stipulating that Britain would probably not be part of it – because a stable Europe is in Britain’s interest.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, co-chairman of the Steering Committee of the Belvedere Forum speaks.

The next, 5th Forum will be held in 2021 in Poland.

The European Business Club Poland hosted British Ambassador.

At the invitation of the President Janusz Cieslak on October 6, 2014 European Business Club Poland hosted visit of the British Ambassador to Poland, HE Robin Barnett. During his welcome speech President Janusz Cieslak pointed out, inter alia, that it is Ambassador Barnett’s third time full diplomatic mission in Poland and is one of the greatest friends of our country.

HE Ambasador Robin Barnett during the meeting
HE Ambasador Robin Barnett during the meeting

In his speech Ambassador Robin Barnett stated that Poland is by far the most important trading partner for the UK in Central Europe. Trade is very lively and is growing more and more rapidly. Polish accession to the European Union resulted in a significant increase in trade between the two countries. Currently, the UK market is, after Germany, Polish second largest export market. So far, export to the UK was conducted in the majority by large corporations. Recently we can observe a change in this trend. More and more Polish companies operating at UK’s market are small and medium size companies which also begin to export their goods and services. Ambassador Robin Barnett pointed out two factors that undoubtedly contribute to the expansion of Polish products and services to the UK market. From May 1, 2004, more than half a million Poles have permanently emigrated to the UK and consequently the Polish language became the second, after English, the most used in the UK. Second factor is that the Polish businesses opened up to new opportunities and they offer more competitive products and services, which is appreciated in the global markets.
The Ambassador stressed that the United Kingdom is one of the most attractive markets for investors in the world. It is also appreciated by our entrepreneurs. Currently the UK there is operating sixty thousands of Polish companies.
The overriding objective of the Embassy is supporting key British companies interested in involvement in strategic projects in Poland. Embassies staff is focused on six sectors in which British companies have a lot to offer. These are: energy, transport infrastructure and water, the defense sector, the service sector, particularly financial, health care, and advanced engineering technologies.

After Ambassadors speech there was held interesting discussion, during which Ambassador answered numerous questions.

Ambassador Robin Barnett promised to meet with members of the EBC Poland also next year.