Poland’s economic progress after 10 years in the European UnionPublished: 30.05.2014
On the 10th anniversary of the Poland’s accession to the European Union, we present you a list of changes which have occurred in the Polish economy. Basing on selected macroeconomic data we will demonstrate how the Polish economy – for better or worse- has changed.
Strong GDP growth
The most spectacular growth, which best shows the economic progress Poland has made, can be found in the GDP statistics.
According to GUS data, the average annual GDP growth reached a strong 5.5% y/y in years 2004-2007, but this growth rate dropped to 3% between 2008-2013 in the consequence of the global financial crisis. Altogether the average annual growth amounted to 4.2% in the 9 year period.
In comparison, average GDP growth rate in the same period in Czech Republic and Hungary amounted to 2.5% and 0.79% respectively.
Eurosceptics say that between 1995 and 2004, Polish economy grew faster than after joining the EU (a growth of 46.2%). Yet one has to bear in mind the low base of the Polish economy after the collapse of the communist system as well as consider the distance Poland has had to cover to become the 21st economy in the world.
“Undoubtedly, becoming a member of the EU helped us, pros are overwhelmingly bigger than minuses. It’s can be well noticed when compared with Ukraine – our GDP in 1990 was even lower than Ukraine’s, today its’ three times as big,” told PAP Piotr Kuczyński, an economist.
Once Poland entered the EU, new markets and new possibilities of duty-free foreign trade have arisen for Polish producers. It is appropriate to say that Polish companies have taken advantage of these new possibilities to a full extent.
Before Poland become a part of the Union, the value of exported goods in 2003 amounted to almost USD 74 bln. In 2013 this value grew to USD 206 bln, which – after adjusting for inflation - means a growth of 217%.
Moreover, Poland became an important exporter of food within the last ten years. Between years 2003-2013, the exports of food products and produce grew fivefold, imports grew four-and-a-half-fold, whereas foreign trade balance grew more than fourteen-fold.
In 2013, the value of food exports reached EUR 20 bln, whereas the positive balance reached EUR 5.7 bln. Today, almost 80% of food is shipped to the EU markets, whereas beforehand it was the post-soviet countries that were the main recipients of Polish food exports.
Agriculture benefitted the most
One of the biggest advantage of Polish accession to the EU was the inclusion of Polish agricultural sector in the Common Agricultural Policy, which stabilized long-term production conditions. Polish farming industry is an important part of the economy – although farming generates only 3.4% of Poland’s GDP, it employs 12.4% of Poland’s workforce and 39% of people live in rural areas.
Polish farmers increased their income thanks to Poland’s EU membership, as they have become beneficiaries of the EU and national public funds through direct subsidies. Between 2004-2013, the real personal income of farmers increased by 64%, of employees working in farming – by 39%, of individual farmers – by 37%, retirees - by 26%. Despite that, rural household’s income is still lower than that of an urban household.
Furthermore, Polish countryside received ca. EUR 4 bln in the first two years of the membership. In total, throughout the last 10 years, Polish farmers received almost EUR 30 bln from the EU.
Jobs and Labor market
Despite major successes of the Polish economy since the time of Poland becoming a EU member, there are still some elements of the national economy with mixed performance. One of them is the labor market.
The average gross salary of a Polish employee grew – after adjusting for inflation – merely by almost 18% between 2003 and 2013 to PLN 3650.06) and in March 2014 it surpassed the PLN 4000 level.
Also, a big drop in unemployment has occurred, which has been the result of both mass emigration to other EU countries, as well as professional activation of persons of working age.
The number of unemployed in 2003 amounted to 3.175 mln people, whereas in 2013 – 2.157 mln. At the same time Poland’s employment increased from 12.64 mln people to 15.71 mln at the end of 2013. That leaves 1 mln less unemployed and almost over 3 mln more workers.
“The negative side of joining the EU was the exodus of workforce, which was related to the opening of the borders with the UK among other countries. Poles who could be generating GDP in our country, have emigrated. We’ve lost this potential, which is a negative factor,” told PAP Ryszard Petru, the Head of the Polish Economists Society.
“That obviously has its positive side – those who left send now money earned abroad back to Poland,” he added.
Source - Polish Press Agency, Economic Service