Who is doing well today

Why Poland is coping so well with the Corona crisis

Poland's economy is less affected by the consequences of the pandemic than in the EU. But this is not only thanks to the national-conservative PiS government.

Double-digit growth dynamics, increasing export figures and an increase in the number of employees - Paweł Kisiel, CEO of the Atlas Group, looks back with satisfaction on 2020. The Polish building materials manufacturer is doing well in the corona crisis, because renovation work is booming in your own four walls during the pandemic. But the company, which was founded shortly after the collapse of communism in Poland, had already earned a good standing in European competition.

"Today we no longer fight with price, we fight with quality, we fight with innovation," says Kisiel. For example, the manufacturer is characterized by an innovative gel adhesive. In Zgierz, near Łódź, there is now one of the largest production facilities for construction chemicals in Eastern Europe.

Forecasts see positive development

The Polish group of companies is representative of a development that encompasses the country - and that is making itself felt in the pandemic. Because thanks to its far-reaching structural change, the country is getting through the crisis particularly well compared to other EU countries.

Poland could even be the only EU country to reach the pre-crisis level by the end of 2021:

  • At around 2.8 percent, economic output fell less sharply in 2020 than in many other EU countries.
  • And the forecast looks good: The Polish National Bank expects the gross domestic product to grow by 4.1 percent in 2021.
    • EU average 7.3 percent
    • Greece 16.2 percent (highest value)
    • Germany 4.6 percent
    • Poland 3.1 percent (lowest value)
    • EU: -4.6 percent
    • Spain: -9.1 percent (highest value)
    • Germany: -3.6 percent
    • Poland: -2.7 percent
    • Ireland: -0.2 percent (lowest value)

The tourism industry plays a subordinate role

Kai-Olaf Lang, head of the EU integration research group at the Science and Politics Foundation, sees several factors for the development: "On the one hand, the country has a solid, broad-based industry that is supported by exports," says Eastern Europe -Expert. Poland has mainly focused on the production of durable consumer goods, such as furniture and consumer electronics, for which demand has increased during the pandemic.

The government's rescue packages "certainly played a role". In addition, sectors that are particularly affected by the pandemic, such as tourism, are of less importance in Poland, says Lang.

A second aspect is certainly the country's adaptability and innovative strength.

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Child benefit and a higher minimum wage strengthen purchasing power

The national conservative ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) likes to claim economic success for itself. According to Lang, the situation cannot be attributed to the economic policy of the PiS alone. Rather, the success factors have "grown over the years" and are not the "product of one government or another". Long:

One could say that the PiS effect is perhaps in fact the fact that social policy has strengthened domestic demand in recent years.

Since the change of government in 2015, the national conservatives have passed many social benefits - including a monthly child benefit and an increase in the minimum wage.

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Poland wants to build nuclear power plants

How competitive and crisis-proof Warsaw is in the future depends not least on the energy transition. Because Poland currently gets almost 80 percent of its energy from hard coal and lignite power plants, which makes the country one of the biggest climate offenders in the EU. By 2030, 240 billion euros are to be invested to reshape the energy industry.

Environment Minister Michał Kurtyka wants to reduce the coal share to 11 to 28 percent within 20 years. The last coal mine is slated to close in 2049. However, Poland does not want to follow the European course with a focus on gas and renewable energy sources - the government has announced that it will switch to nuclear power and build six reactors by 2040.