Netherlands strengthens ties with Poland
‘The Netherlands values its economic relations with Poland and its cooperation with Poland in the EU. Our ties are strong, but we can do even more together.’ Foreign minister Frans Timmermans delivered this message in Warsaw today, during talks with his Polish counterpart, Radosław Sikorski.
Foreign minister Frans Timmermans with his Polish counterpart Radosław Sikorski.
The two ministers looked back at the recent European Council and discussed priorities for the near future. ‘A strong European Union is vital for the prosperity of the Netherlands and Poland,’ said Mr Timmermans. ‘The EU should therefore focus on our citizens’ interests.’ The ministers also discussed the EU’s relations with its eastern neighbours. ‘The EU’s stability and prosperity will benefit if our neighbours are democracies that respect the rule of law and have well-functioning market economies,’ Mr Timmermans said. ‘Dutch expertise in working with civil society organisations in Eastern Europe and Poland’s experience of the transition from communism to democracy and a market economy complement one another very nicely.’ In addition, the ministers discussed ways of strengthening cooperation between the Polish and Dutch mission networks. ‘We can save costs by making more use of one another’s buildings and other facilities,’ said Mr Timmermans. ‘We have agreed to examine where the Netherlands and Poland can provide accommodation for one another’s diplomats.’
In Warsaw Mr Timmermans also met representatives of Dutch companies to discuss how to maximise the support they receive from the Netherlands. The Netherlands and Poland are each other’s seventh- and eighth-biggest trading partners respectively. In 2011, exports to Poland totalled €8.3 billion and imports from Poland totalled €5.9 billion. This means that their trade with one another is worth more than their trade with any of the BRIC countries. The Netherlands ranks third among Poland’s foreign investors.
Mr Timmermans also met members of the Polish-Dutch group in the Polish parliament to discuss labour migration and other issues. ‘Surveys show that migrant workers make a positive contribution to the Dutch economy,’ he said. ‘And Polish migrants work particularly hard. But both countries need to take steps to ensure that everything runs smoothly. For instance, the Dutch government is tackling the exploitation of migrant workers by rogue employers and employment agencies.’
The Dutch minister also held talks with representatives of Polish NGOs active in the field of democratisation in Eastern Europe. ‘NGOs play a key role in promoting democracy and human rights, and this includes opposing discrimination based on sexual orientation,’ he said. ‘This calls for a creative approach and the Netherlands is keen to provide a helping hand, in partnership with the Polish government.’
At the end of the day Mr Timmermans took part in a discussion with academics and policymakers on how the EU can shape global developments.