It was a pleasure to welcome once again Prime Minister Donald Tusk here, in the Commission. But today in a very special format. Prime Minister Tusk came with a very important delegation of the Polish government and we have met - the College of Commissioners and the Polish government. Now bilateral meetings are going on. And this, of course, also bearing in mind the Polish Presidency of the Council next year.
It was the first time we had this kind of meeting. And I want to underline the great convergence of views between Poland and the European Commission. We are meeting in special times. As we know, Poland has been struck by terrible and widespread floods. I have been following these developments closely. Let me on my own behalf and on behalf of the European Commission express our deep solidarity with all those hit by the floods, especially the more than 30.000 people that had to be evacuated. Several EU Member States have already provided immediate help. The Commission has also been active and the EU stands ready to support Poland also in the aftermath of these terrible floods. A Polish request to the European solidarity fund will be processed as quickly as possible. We hope with you that this natural disaster will quickly be overcome.
Now some words on today's meeting: We have had a very fruitful morning with intensive discussions about the EU's current agenda and our future cooperation with view to the Polish Presidency. The Polish Presidency is of course a special occasion. But in fact our cooperation is on a day-by-day basis. I have been working with Prime Minister Tusk for several years. I would like to state the view that we see alike a lot of European issues if not all European issues and I hope that this very good, intense, political relationship will be translated also into common action during the Polish Presidency.
I am very pleased to see a high degree of support for strong economic governance from the Polish government.
The Polish Presidency in the second half of 2011 will come at a crucial moment and against the backdrop of a challenging economic outlook. During this Presidency we will see progress on the priorities set by the Polish government, in particular the New Financial Framework for 2014-2020, the deepening of the internal market, further implementation of the Eastern Partnership and higher European energy security. We will continue to work on economic governance initiatives, on implementing our Europe 2020 strategy and with it the necessary structural reforms. We will ensure that the rules and structures that we have put in place to repair financial markets will be operational.
I believe that Poland will show strong leadership and careful handling of these issues. In particular, I believe that Poland is well placed to implement the Europe2020 strategy. It is impressive to see in what good economic shape Poland has come through the crisis. In fact, Poland was the only EU country to have recorded positive growth in 2009, and the prospects for 2010 are even more positive. Poland has shown that resilience to external shocks can be strengthened if internal policies are right. Prudence in ensuring fiscal sustainability has clearly paid off.
With the "Poland in 2030" report, the Polish government has embraced and taken further the Europe 2020 strategy. It is based on the conviction that Member States need to undertake structural changes, invest in human and intellectual capital to face the societal challenges of tomorrow.
This report concludes 'building the future must start today', I have quoted. I can only agree! And that is what we have done today. We also had a very open discussion about the current moment the EU is facing. I believe we are in one of those moments in the European integration where we cannot stand still. Business as usual is not an option. Either we advance and we make Europe a real project also in terms of economic governance and choose solidarity or there could be a risk of going backwards. And if you look at the programme of the Polish Presidency, indeed it is for the added value of Europe: In deepening energy security, in deepening the internal market, in a stronger foreign and defence policy, in a stronger economic governance – on all those matters Poland is supporting more Europe. But more Europe does not mean a more centralized Europe. It means a Europe that is more effective. And for Europe to be more effective it needs stronger European institutions, such as the European Commission, but backed also by the political will of the member states.
And I am fully confident that in Poland we have this political will. We have a complete understanding that Europe is a project that has to be sustained not only here in Brussels, but in different capitals. And that is why I very much welcome working hand in hand with Prime Minister Donald Tusk and all his government. And I want to thank him for his initiative of having come here well ahead of the Presidency with all his government and to have this very, very open exchange of views. We are preparing it to be a success, a success for Poland, but also a success for the whole European Union.