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Relationship Between Poland and the EBRD Strengthens2017-09-19 source own
For Poland, there has always been a philosophy of change and reform and this was seen towards the beginning of the 1980s when Solidarnosc, an independent trade union, started what would become a large movement against communism; eventually, the state couldn't withstand the pressure and had to give in.
As the one-party state fell in 1989, ‘shock therapy’ was introduced to the country and the ‘EBRD’ became the first project signed in May 1991. With the first loan agreement signed with Wielkopolski Bank Kredytowy (WBK), the fact it was denominated in ECU shows how things have changed in the time since. Of course, the Euro is now at the helm but Poland has seen larger changes than this.
Around thirty years ago, Poland was characterised as a country with a centrally-planned economy boasting numerous inefficiencies, shortages, and general underperformance. Now, it stands as one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. Between then and now, there were difficult times which show the reforms weren't easy but the positive expectations are now becoming a reality. With solid foundations in place, the country has an opportunity to succeed on a wider scale so long as the opportunity isn't wasted.
Within the European Union, Poland sits in sixth place in terms of economy size and it has now been a part of the union for 13 years. When joining back in 2004, Poland stated its desired to reinforce its position at the centre of the continent; in addition to this, they wanted to be the bridge between east and west as well as the north and south. In 2017, these goals are closer than ever before and some would argue they’ve reached this stage. To prove this, they were the only country not to feel the tremors of the global recession back in 2008.
Instead, they learned of areas where more reforms were needed and this was seen with the local capital market. Luckily, the EBRD was at hand to provide financial and technical support to create a new supportive environment. Nearly a decade later, the EBRD remains as a pioneer in the Polish market. For example, their participation in issuing covered bonds can be highlighted alongside new legislation for real estate investment trusts.
As we move forward, the energy sector will be critical for Poland since the population of 38 million generate huge demand for electricity and power. For the most part, coal-powered plants are allowing this need to be met but key figures in the country recognise the need for rebalancing the energy mix.
When it comes to renewables, the potential is worth discussing with biomass, onshore wind generation, offshore wind power, and even solar making progress. With the EBRD, they’ve already committed to Poland to improve existing wind projects as well as investing in new projects for the future. In addition to this, the Bank has been extremely helpful in efficiency measures and supporting all energy savings and this is shown with dedicated credit lines.
In total, Poland and the EBRD have combined for nearly 390 projects which has led to investment of over €8.5 billion. Currently, there are no signs this will slow down after the Bank signed off on €775 million worth of projects in 2016; this makes Poland the third largest country of operation for the EBRD. Furthermore, a brand-new strategy is currently in place and the Bank is attempting to help Poland to become a green economy in the coming years.
Elsewhere, the EBRD is also continuing its relationship with WBK which signals the changing relationship with Poland. In 1991, the very first loan to WBK was signed for SMEs in less-developed regions and now the focus is on bigger and better goals.