Poland Needs Innovation to Catch Up With West, World Bank Says

  • East European nation needs fiscal prudence, more immigration
  • Government should build ‘broad consensus’ on strategic goals

Poland needs innovation, labor market reforms and strong institutions to complete its “remarkable” transformation and catch up with Western living standards, according to a World Bank report.

The ex-communist nation of 38 million people, and European Union member since 2004, moved from middle-income to high-income status “in record time,” Arup Banerji, World Bank Regional Director for the EU, said on Tuesday. “If Poland wants to continue its ascent and meet the rising expectations of citizens, it needs to build on its reform successes -- such as prudent fiscal policy -- but also initiate new reforms around innovation and progressive labor market regulations and institutions.”

The World Bank said that after carrying out bold economic reforms in the early 1990s, Poland “got its institutions right,” including the rule of law, property rights and democratic accountability. Now, it needs to take a pragmatic stance on fiscal spending as EU funds currently boosting the budget will eventually dry up, as well as on immigration, especially as its own population is quickly aging, according to the report.

The EU’s executive in Brussels has launched an unprecedented procedure against Poland’s 17-month-old government, which it says is undermining democratic standards through its overhauls of the judiciary and media. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo was isolated at the bloc’s summit two weeks ago, and her foreign minister has since said that trust in the EU was too high, triggering claims by the opposition that the cabinet was preparing to exit the bloc despite overwhelming public support to remain in the world’s biggest free-trade area.

“Poland’s vibrant political institutions need to work on rebuilding a broad consensus on the vision and economic strategy for the country, to meet the challenges, while ensuring the long-term policy continuity that has served the country so well in the past,” the World Bank said.

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