Poland has been on a remarkable economic journey in recent years. Following 45 years of communism, all business sectors have been undergoing profound change, at varying speeds.
Starting in the early 1990s, Poland has made a rapid and efficient transition from a collective economy to a market economy, accepting the immediate social consequences of such a great upheaval. The measures put in place to combat the hyperinflation that was threatening to ruin the country put Poland on the path to progress and growth and helped to lay the ground for the negotiations towards joining the European Union which were opened in 1994.
Since becoming a member of the EU on 1 May 2004, Poland has been one of Europe s most dynamic economies and has moreover proved resilient in the face of external shocks. This was in fact the only EU Member State not to suffer a marked recession during the 2008- 2010 financial and economic crisis.
A number of factors have contributed to this success, not least the availability of a skilled workforce coupled with relatively low labour costs. Moreover, the European structural funds allocated to Poland have been used to good effect in creating or modernising basic infrastructure, including the motorways and railways that are of great importance to an economy becoming increasingly integrated with other EU countries.
The banking sector has also played its part in the process. Since the mid-1990s, banks have undergone a thorough restructuring, characterised by both a privatisation drive and the involvement of foreign investors in restoring banks in difficulty to health. This consis- tent policy pursued by the Central Bank and the Polish financial supervision authority KNF has led to the establishment of a diverse banking infrastructure able to generate optimal solutions for financing growth and helping to meet customers aspirations. During this period, banks have also seen their solvency and liquidity significantly strengthened.
Today Poland is moving into a new phase in its development. In order to meet the nation s aspirations going forward, it will be vital to pursue an economic model able to support further growth when labour costs become less attractive and the availability of the cur- rently abundant EU community funds diminishes. This will involve mobilising financial resources so as to enable the country to produce goods and services with higher added value, based on greater innovation and greater internationalisation of Polish companies.