The debate “Ask me anything about Poland in the EU” was held in Belgrade last week. The discussion was organized by the European Movement in Serbia, as the first in the series “Ask me anything about the EU” that the EPuS will organize in different cities throughout Serbia. Interested citizens had the opportunity to discuss with Poland’s European Affairs Expert, Piotr Kaczyński, about the experience of his country in regards to accession and membership in the European Union.
Piotr Kaczyński is an independent expert in European affairs, specialized in the decision-making process in Europe. Since 2014 he has been coaching EU officials at the European Institute for Public Administration (EIPA) in Maastricht. Due to the open format of the debate, the participants discussed with Kaczyński the current situation of Serbia’s process of EU accession, as well as the future of the process itself. Additionally, the importance of education about the EU and regional cooperation were discussed.
During the debate, the situation in Poland and Serbia was compared with the lack of European values in the public opinion, as well as the presence of radically right attitudes, especially among young people. He warned of the continually growing, right winged attitudes in his home country, but also in others. Additionally, he believes that every European country has a right to be in the European Union.
According to Kaczyński , youth initiatives are a main priority for the European Commission. He believes that enough is never enough when it comes to education. “Learn from our mistakes,“ he said. “Poland’s error in the accession process was that the main focus was on economics and economic growth. We have not paid enough attention to education, especially to youth education about the European Union. You are focusing on the accession process, but there is a life even after joining the EU,” Kaczyński reminded. He highlighted the importance of considering what life will look like upon joining the EU. He stated that life after accession isn’t “rosie“. By this he means that life is not automatically better once a country becomes a member state; reforms should always be in the works. The accession process should not be the only aspect on the country’s radar.
He also pointed out that cooperation with other countries in the Western Balkans was a significant topic for Serbia’s road to Europe. Cooperation, often times, leads to resolution. He talked about Polish experience with the Visegrad Group, as well as other forms of regional cooperation in the EU. Kaczyński stated that cooperation must continue even after EU accession in order to be successful.
“I can not offer you a solution, but I can tell you about the good practices that I know of. What Serbia should do is for its citizens to decide, ” Kaščinski said.
“Ask me anything about …” is a series of events organized by EPuS within the EnlargEUrope project. The goal of this project is to contribute to better understanding and promotion of the importance of the enlargement of the European Union through linking different experiences and experiencing European integration of current citizens and future EU citizens. The project will last until 2020 and will cover various public events in Serbia and Europe and a promotional campaign on social networks.
On this project, the European Movement in Serbia cooperates with several partner organizations: NGO ALFA Center from Montenegro, GONG from Croatia, Youth Association for Entrepreneurship Promotion from Lithuania, the Romanian Academic Society, and the Polish Foundation Robert Schuman. The project is co-financed from the EU’s Europe for Citizens Program.