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Denmark and Poland: Different backgrounds – common goals

Joint article by Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Poland and Denmark, Grzegorz Schetyna and Martin Lidegaard on April 13th 2015.

Not long ago Poland and Denmark were separated by an Iron Curtain and different backgrounds. Now we cooperate closely on bringing the European economy and Single Market forward, on creating a more stable neighbourhood in a global frame of crisis and turmoil and on energy security. As well as promoting trade and culture in our countries.

But we can do more. Today, we have agreed on a Danish-Polish “Joint Communiqué” to get even better results for our countries and people. The agreement contains areas that will evidently succeed, but also areas in which a strengthened dialogue is necessary to resolve the problems that inevitably arise between neighbours.

The “Joint Communiqué” contains a broad range of areas like digitalization, labour and social affairs, innovative and creative industries, spatial planning, environment and energy. Seminars on digitalization in the public sector are currently being planned in both Copenhagen and Warsaw and other activities will follow.

In the coming years we expect our mutual trade to grow, our investments to increase in both countries, and many more Poles and Danes to work, settle, study and travel to each other’s countries.

In recent years, Poland and Denmark have co-operated well within the European Union. We will continue to do so, since the EU is the most important framework for our co-operation. But a strong bilateral co-operation is key to further developing our co-operation.

We will in the following point to three main challenges right now:

1. The crisis in Ukraine has been the most recent reminder why we need to stick together and engage more. Only by standing united can we meet the challenges posed by Russia’s destabilising actions and help Ukraine develop in a sustainable direction. As foreign ministers of Poland and Denmark, we have travelled together to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and met with the leaders of these countries. They will benefit from the recent EU agreements, but they must also reform. As representatives of two countries with shared goals but different experiences, we bring a certain synergy to the table and our joint visits demonstrate the EU’s solidarity and unity. We stand firmly behind the EU line on Russia. We need to stay firm and Russia must deliver on the ground. If that happens we hope to see a better relationship.

We strive to cooperate closely in order to strengthen the capacity and potential of the NATO Multinational Corps in Szczecin, which was established on the basis of a common Danish, Polish and German initiative in the mid-90s, but also to develop the Eastern Partnership programme and different formats of cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region.  In these fora we aim to promote stability with our Eastern neighbours, improve sectorial cooperation including in the field of energy,  further pursue of the visa liberalization process with all Eastern partners in accordance with established rules, as well as counter Russian propaganda and promote growth – just to mention a few priorities.

 2.  The situation in Ukraine has also emphasized another challenge for Europe – Energy. We must diversify our energy supply to reduce our dependency on dominant external suppliers . We are very satisfied with the decision at the last European Council endorsing the establishing of the energy union with a forward-looking climate policy , who’s five dimensions, are closely interlinked . Such an overarching strategy can only succeed if we work together across country borders at all levels: EU-wide, regional, national and local. 

A high level of energy security is vital to European citizens and companies and a lot still needs to be done to improve this. The key driver of energy security is the completion of the energy market and improved infrastructure with better interconnection backed up by transparency and solidarity between member states. Together with enhanced regional cooperation, this will contribute to increased security of supply, improved competitiveness as well as better integration of renewable energy sources. Another important element is to improve energy efficiency – one of the driving forces of the European economy.

3. It is no secret that Denmark and Poland have distinct approaches to some areas. We come from different starting points. But we discuss and work together – and find compromises that benefit us both. Within the area of labour and the free movement of workers, the ministers for labour and social affairs have recently signed an agreement in order to intensify the cooperation by improving mutual understanding of our countries’ labour markets and the rules which to apply. At the same time we recognise that the freedom of movement of people, goods and services are the cornerstones of the EU.

Last year, Poland celebrated the 25 years for the first free elections. Denmark was a firm ally on democracy and EU membership and now we need to expand this. We must together use our experiences to promote stability in Europe through reforms in our Eastern Neighbourhood. And inside the EU we can play a strong role on the economic issues and many others. The “Joint Communiqué” is a tool and platform to improve the ties between the two nations for the next 25 years. We are especially satisfied that such enhancement of our bilateral cooperation takes place in a year, when Poland assumes Presidency of the Council of Baltic Sea States, which will be yet another opportunity for strengthening ties between Poland and Denmark.