Mose Apelblat

First a few words of credit to Poland. During my work with evaluation and auditing in DG Enlargement, I visited Poland a few times before its accession to EU. Later on, after turning to public administration reform, I had the opportunity to attend a EUPAN conference in Krakow during the Polish presidency. It was always a pleasure to discuss EU issues with our colleagues from Poland.

Another credit I want to give to Poland is inspired by my heritage trip last August. I visited Krakow, Lublin and Zamosc. Overall it was impressing to witness how Poland is preserving Jewish synagogues and cemeteries who were destroyed by Nazi-Germany during the Holocaust.

In the past it might have been Jews abroad who initiated and funded such restorations. Now very often the initiative comes locally, from town and villages where no Jews are left, and with funding from EU, other international aid programs, and national co-financing. The sites are visited by Polish tourist groups and visitors from other countries. This work can stand as a model for other EU member states.

The way how Poland is restoring or even recreating and reliving, Jewish sites – take e.g. the former Jewish quarter Kazimierz in Krakow – pays tribute to its effort to overcome past prejudices. It also contributes to a historic reconciliation between two nations who were living side by side for hundreds of years.

So why complain? Today’s article in EurActiv (18.9) on the use of EU funds for energy renewal in Poland seems to require a response by both Poland and the European Commission. According to the reports quoted by EurActiv, Poland is using billions of euros from EU carbon credits and emission allowances on coal plants and the budget deficit.

The intention was of course to support Poland in diversifying its energy mix, increase its use of renewable energy sources and reduce its carbon emission. How is this possible? Obviously because of Poland’s current reliance on coal fueled power plants and its reluctance to change course.

But it was perhaps made possible by the lenient rules in the relevant regulations and agreements which according to EurActiv are not legally binding or written in the form of recommendations.

EurActiv also writes that “the decision to bolster Poland’s dominant coal industry at the expense of other energy sources and to cut the country’s deficit budget rather than invest in cleaner energy was made under Tusk’s watch.”

The Polish prime minister was recently elected to next president of the European Council. In his first press conference (EurActiv 3/9), he referred to other sources of energy: “This is a very important moment because I’m convinced that my legacy, my personal experience and our European dreams can become an important source of energy.”

True but don’t forget the energy sources which are fuelling our power plants, warming our buildings and driving our transport means. The challenges of climate change are enormous.

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