"Poland needs Europe - but Europe also needs Poland!"

- Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II
Speaking in Warsaw


With Poland set to join EU on May 1st 2004 the Consulate of the Republic of Poland for the West Midlands has invited the eight British Members of the European Parliament for the region to share with us their thoughts on this historic event.

We are grateful for their time and effort and hope that you find their comments useful and interesting...

John Corrie MEP

“The EU is in safe hands”

After over 25 years in the European Parliament and in Westminster, I feel it is time to pass on the torch to a new generation. I shall therefore be standing down as an MEP in June of this year, but I do so in the knowledge that EU affairs will be in safe hands.

Firstly, I am very pleased that my three Conservative colleagues will be standing again. They have each spent over half their lives living and working in the West Midlands region. It is their natural home, and they are committed to serve it well. As new MEPs in 1999 they have each had a remarkable impact in the European Parliament in the past five years, and I am confident they will build their reputations even further in the years to some.

But I am also confident about the future of the EU in a wider sense, following enlargement in May of this year to include ten new Member States led by Poland. In the past year I have met observers from Poland attending various Parliamentary Committees, and it is already clear that they have a major contribution to make. But there is an even more important point to highlight.

In my own work in Africa with developing nations of the third world, Poland has a special meaning within the Catholic communities in particular as the birthplace of a remarkable man. He is revered and respected throughout the world. History will record that the freeing of Eastern and Central Europe in the twentieth century came not from the military might of western superpowers: it came from the spiritual power and authority of His Holiness John Paul II.

With Poland and the Poles now reunited in Europe, the EU is in safe hands indeed.

Philip Bushill-Matthews MEP

“Polska to wspanialy kraj”

It is not generally known in the UK that Poland’s history has been central to the development of present-day Europe. It was Polish troops that saved Europe from being overwhelmed by the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. In 1791, the country was the first in Europe to produce a written constitution – and only the second in the whole world after the fledgling United States of America four years earlier. Its Parliamentary system dates back to the fifteenth century, and a prototype Commonwealth of Europe embracing Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Belarus and parts of Germany existed for 200 years.

More recently in the Middle East, Poles have stood proudly with British and American troops in helping to stabilise Iraq – to the distaste of France and other countries from “Old Europe” who resented being left on the sidelines. Poland is the firmest of allies as well as the strongest of friends.

What Conservatives find so exciting is that Poland as a fiercely proud and independent nation is not afraid to speak its mind in Europe. Poland is not going to be pushed around by France and Germany, and is not afraid who knows it. The other candidate countries look up to Poland for that very reason. So do we.

It was a privilege to be in the European Parliament last year to hear a special formal address from President Aleksander Kwasniewski. It was a pleasure to make a personal visit to Warsaw and Cracow ahead of the referendum. It was a delight to see such a positive and decisive vote that will bring Poland at long last back into the heart of Europe where it belongs. We look forward to working with the Polish community both here and on the continent for a stronger, better future together.

Poem by Lukasz Rzeczkowski
Special assistant to Philip Bushill-Matthews MEP

"Jest taki kraj nad Wisla i Baltyckim morzem
kraj przeslicznej wiosny
gdzie milosc to wiersz milosny
pachnacy trawa i zbozem.

Philip Bradbourn OBE MEP

“Welcome to Poland”

The 1st May 2004 is a historic day for Europe. Poland, along with nine other countries, will be joining the current EU, pushing the population covered over 400million people, represented by 25 different Nation States.

The EU has experienced many stages of enlargement and existed in several forms. The UK joined what was then the European Community in 1973 and as a country, we have managed to retain most of our independence whilst, at the same time, profiting from trade throughout the internal market.

It is my view that the EU should be a union of Nation States, enjoying their own independence and sovereignty yet trading closely with each other in this internal market. It is because of this view that I fully welcome Poland into the EU- here we have another friend entering the internal market widening the scope for trade and the free movement of goods and people.

Poland, I believe, will enjoy the fruits of its membership with the EU just as did the economy of the UK. Its professionals, for example, will be able to look further afield for jobs and prosperity and its transport infrastructure will be substantially upgraded.

Of course, it will not only be the citizens of Poland which will benefit. Visitors to the country will find it easier and much more accessible.

The West Midlands has a large and successful Polish Community which contributes greatly to the region and I am sure they are delighted Poland will finally be welcomed into the EU family.

Malcolm Harbour MEP

“Poland - the business opportunities”

Poland - like all the Accession Countries - stands to gain great economic benefits from joining the European Internal Market. Poland already has a good base of manufacturing and technical skills, which have already attracted significant new investment in critical sectors such as cars, electronics and chemicals. It also has entrepreneurial and research skills, which can be harnessed to create new businesses focused on EU market opportunities.

UK organisations such as the Chambers of Commerce are already starting to build links with Polish small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and to encourage the development of marketing and manufacturing partnerships. As your MEPs, we are working closely with them. UK companies can offer technical co-operation and know-how to Polish SMEs wanting to expand into new markets. There are major opportunities for sales expansion by marketing and licensing deals, and we may be able to unlock doors here too.

Member of the European Parliament have strongly supported programmes that help Polish entrepreneurs access the Internal Market, and also become engaged in EU funded research programmes to help build their skills and knowledge. Polish ministers have been given help in the introduction of Single Market measures - particularly to intensive competition into the key sectors of energy and electronic communications. Investment is flowing into these sectors to build the competitive infrastructure that will be so vital for business and economic success.

In the next Parliament, we look forward to working with Centre-Right MEPs from Poland as well as the businesses they represent in our joint cause of making the European Union "the most dynamic knowledge driven economy in the world". Poland must be a key player in achieving this goal. Together, I am confident we can deliver.

Simon Murphy MEP

Photograph: Simon Murphy MEP with Prof Danuta Hubner Poland's European Affairs Minister


On 1st May 2004 will be in the vanguard of the creation of the new Europe. This historic enlargement is coming through peaceful and democratic means. As Tony Blair has said “The New Europe is being created by free will – not conquest; spreading equality and justice – not domination and exploitation. We will see few more significant events in our lifetimes.”

The tragedy of 1939, and the denial of a people’s rights that followed, cast a long shadow over Europe for decades. The tearing down of the Iron Curtain, that began with the Solidarity movement in shipyards of Gdansk, has led to freedom for the enslaved half of our continent.

The new Europe will bring greater prosperity and employment for us all. There will also be better co-operation on tackling organised crime, drug trafficking and people smuggling. Enlargement will improve environmental standards, health and safety in the workplace, and opportunities for business.

The West Midlands has strong and proud links with Poland. The partnership between the West Midlands in Europe office and Lower Silesia is a practical example of how we are working together. The recent visit to our region by the Polish Chamber of Commerce shows how economically we are growing ever closer.

On May 1st, Poland - so crucial to Europe’s future, will take its rightful place as a full and free member of the European Union. This is a time to celebrate as we look forward together to create a better Europe of jobs and security for us all.

Neena Gill MEP

“Poland & the West Midlands;
partnership for prosperity & progress”

2004 is a historic year, as the forthcoming enlargement will finally put an end the artificial division of Europe. The most challenging and the most diverse, but a one that will make the Union truly continental in its scale and will reunite East and West Europe for stronger and more advantageous Union for all of its Member States, new and old.

We have seen tremendous efforts and remarkable progress for this biggest enlargement and I am privileged to have had an opportunity to play a part in enabling successful accession of Poland and other member states to the European Union (EU). Representing a region as diverse as the West Midlands, due recognition has to be given to the Polish community for their a valuable contribution and making our region dynamic and vibrant.

As the largest of the 10 countries due to join on the 1 May 2004, I believe that Poland's membership will bring to us an entrepreneurial spirit as well as a firm commitment to strengthening prosperity, peace and security across Europe. Poland's experience will help us develop our thinking and capacity to develop an Eastern dimension to the politics and policies of the European Union with its insights and experiences with its old neighbours that will now become our new neighbours. The EU membership will also deliver vast benefits to Poland, not only economically, but also politically, and culturally as well.

I believe that Poland is in a position to offer a leadership role to the European Union and will contribute to building a Europe, which will be more open and democratic. I am particularly please to note that Poland is nominating Danuta Hübner who was the Chief negotiator and Convention representative and as only one of three female candidates for Commissioner from the accession states.

British-Polish relations are well forged, and I am particularly proud that they are strong and well established in the West Midlands. Birmingham's partnership with Lower Silesia has already delivered benefits to both though various co-operation measures. Good links have been established between our business communities, these have included training in relation to Structural Funds, work placements as well as other exchanges. The West Midlands region is totally committed to sharing our experiences to enable regions in Poland to reap the full benefits of EU membership. I am sure that this will be further enhanced after 1st May 2004 and I look forward to continuing to reinforce these strong links and building upon the links I have already made with Polish MPs (observers) in the next Parliament.

At this momentous occasion I warmly welcome Poland and its citizens into the heart of the European Union and especially to warm friendship in the European Parliament.

Michael Cashman MEP

Witamy! May 1st 2004 will be a historic date for Poland, the European Union and the entire continent of Europe. It’s the day when the EU will undertake its biggest ever enlargement since France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg established the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951.

Ten countries – Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia – are set to join what will become the largest single market in the world.

EU membership will bring enormous benefits to Poland. The peace and prosperity, stability and security of the last decade will continue. A market of some 470 million will provide Poland with unparalleled economic opportunities, helping to boost growth and create jobs. And as Poland adopts EU laws and policies on the environment, workers rights and discrimination, the quality of life of its 39 million citizens will be enhanced.

Poland’s membership will also benefit the UK and the EU as a whole. The Party of European Socialists and Labour MEPs here in Britain warmly welcome and look forward to enlargement because the whole of Europe will be united for the first time.

In the West Midlands the opportunities from Poland’s membership of the EU enlargement are obvious – a new market with which to trade, greater cultural diversity and more opportunities to travel and work in Eastern Europe.

So I welcome Poland’s imminent membership of the EU and I hope to meet many of the new Polish MEPs when they enter the European Parliament later this year.

Liz Lynne MEP

The accession of Poland to the EU is a great occasion, and one that should be celebrated by all Europeans. The people of Poland have been caught in the middle of much conflict in the past, but I hope that this new chapter in the nation's history will bring lasting peace, security and freedom.

I believe that EU membership will open new horizons to the people of Poland. As a collection of countries, we are diverse in our cultures and customs yet united around common principles of liberty, justice and peace. I believe those values are shared by the people of Poland and I hope that by working together we can spread these principles to those countries in Eastern Europe who do not yet embrace them.

Poland also has a lot to offer the EU. There is much that we can learn from her history and much that we can gain from her natural beauty. Polish people living in this country have made many positive contributions to our society, and I have no doubt that they will do the same for the European Union.

I am delighted that an overwhelming proportion of Poles welcomed their nation's bid to join. I hope that EU membership will give the Polish people a chance to prove their sceptics wrong and show that Poland is a nation capable of great things. I gladly welcome their accession.

Sending my regards to the Polish people both here and abroad-

Liz Lynne MEP.


Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Kidderminster serving the West Midlands of the UK
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Consulate of the Republic of Poland, 6 Osborne Close, Kidderminster, Worcs. DY10 3YY
Tel (01562) 823911
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Celebrating Polish entry to the EU in Kidderminster at the heart of the UK

Hymn Inicjatywy Obywatelskiej TAK w Referendum