Poland Analysis

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Poland - Recent Social Developments

Five recent social developments in Poland are the decreasing population, professional life losing importance for Polish people, the growing value of natural beauty, as well as major issues with LGBT rights and the educational system.

THE SHRINKING POPULATION

  • According to the Polish Statistical Office, just this year, the Polish population decreased by 22,000.
  • The number is especially surprising, considering that there was a slight rise in population in 2018.
  • The population figures went down in 12 out of 16 voivodeships, with the most significant drop of 14,000 observed in Slaskie Voivodeship.
  • One of the few regions were the population increased is Mazowieckie Voivodeship, where Warsaw, the capital, is located. It points toward the conclusion that people are drawn to the capital in search of better employment opportunities.
  • Additionally, the Polish Statistical Office observed declines in the number of marriages and births. They expect those figures to drop further due to the shrinking number of women in reproductive age, as well as many young people moving abroad.
  • It is expected that at the current pace, by 2050, the country's population will go down from 38.2 million to 30 million.

PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE MORE IMPORTANT THAN WORK

  • As per the 2018 research by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS), 64% of Poles are mostly focused on personal and family matters.
  • Out of those, 38% primarily want a long and calm life, 7% — family and personal happiness, 6% to start a family, 6% — to help children or grandchildren, 5% — an honorable life, 5% — to raise their children, 3% — to live through retirement.
  • Other answers, shared by 1-2% of respondents, include good rest and free time, having kids, stability, survival, self-growth and spiritual aspirations, independence, passions and hobbies, and physical activity.
  • Also, in the 2019 study by the same entity, 80% of Poles named family as their top priority, followed by health (55%), peace (48%), friends (45%), other people's respect (42%) and work (36%).
  • It is worth noting that women are more likely than men to mention family as their primary value. It is also more common among highly educated people, housewives, as well as middle- and top-level managers. Those who are not as likely to value it are high net worth individuals, inhabitants of big cities, and unemployed.
  • Between 2008 and 2018, while the family remains to be the most valued, Poles started to care less about their work and professional life, and more about friendship.

POLES VALUING NATURAL BEAUTY

  • According to the 2019 research by Kantar Poland, 85% of Poles think that an attractive look is important.
  • Also, they define good look by positive energy (69%), nice smile (55%), healthy skin (51%), natural beauty (50%), slim figure (46%), fitting haircut (39%), and well-groomed hands (33%).
  • Compared to men, women care more about good energy, nice smile, healthy skin, and fitting haircuts.
  • While the most valued attributes are connected with natural looks, 14% use aesthetic medicine, 25% would like to, and further 25% aren't opposed to the idea.
  • Additionally, two-thirds of Polish people would like to lose weight.
  • The analysis of multiple articles on lifestyle media sites shows that emphasizing the value of natural look is a recent social development. (See here, here, here and here.)

LGBT RIGHTS AS A MAJOR SOCIAL ISSUE

  • Before the most recent election, the conservative party Law and Justice (PiS) used anti-LGBT messaging to create a new enemy for its campaign and stimulate their potential voters.
  • This April, the leader of PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, claimed that LGBT movements are threatening Polish identity. As a result, about 30 villages and towns passed resolutions that declared them "free of LGBT ideology."
  • Also, the pride event in one of the Polish cities was attacked by nationalists, which resulted in many injured participants.
  • However, there was a strong response from the LGBT community and its supporters, both in social media and in real life, with the increased use of LGBT-related hashtags, huge participation in pride events, and many public coming outs.
  • According to the poll by IPSOS, 24% of Polish people think that the LGBT community is the biggest threat to Poland. It's second only to climate change, which leads with 38%.

SOCIAL ISSUES AROUND THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

  • In 2017, PiS conducted the education reform, bringing back the two-tier educational system and taking away vocational or upper secondary school.
  • As a result of the move, which was not welcomed by teachers and parents, 6,600 educators lost their jobs.
  • Other teachers lost housing opportunities and salary bonuses. It has also become significantly harder for them to be promoted to the next level and increase their salaries.
  • After that, teacher unions and the government got into negotiations about pay increases, with teachers demanding $260 more.
  • When the government refused, there was a wave of teacher strikes throughout Poland. Those events affected the students, taking away their school-time and putting a question mark over their chances to take exams and apply to universities.
  • Furthermore, the reform caused administrative chaos in educational institutions, while also making them overcrowded.
  • These events, according to Sustainable Governance Indicators Network, are one of the main reasons why Poland scores poorly in social policies.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

While there was some information available about recent social developments in Poland in English-language sources, it was not sufficient. It was especially difficult to find insights on aspects like demographics, psychographics, and beauty ideals. We scoured through European and American media sites that included information on Polish social climate, as well as through reports by European Union institutions, and Polish sites and organizations that also publish their articles in English. While we found a lot of relevant information, which was summarized in our findings above, we still had to support our findings with articles and reports in Polish. Our accuracy can be verified using Google Translate.
Part
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Poland - Recent Technological Developments

Some recent technological developments in Poland include the expansion of drone technology, 5G technology, SMODO for stop-motion and animation, an innovative textile charger, and SoftPOS for contactless payment solutions.

Technological Developments in Poland

1) Drone Technology

  • The positive public perception of technology and Poland's new regulations surrounding "flights beyond the line of sight" have allowed the country to actively take part in the global expansion of drone technology. In 2019, Spartaqs, a Polish firm, began running flight tests with the Hermes V8MT drone, with plans to have it travel between the Institute of Cardiology (Warsaw) and a blood bank.
  • The company intends to utilize the drone during emergencies to transport medicine and blood, helping to save the lives of many individuals. Additionally, it plans to install a unique pod inside of the drone's cargo so that it could deliver hearts for transplants. To avoid injuring civilians in case of malfunctions, the drone mostly travels over waterways.
  • According to Tech Xplore, it travels at a speed of 50 miles per hour and is able to transport medicine, blood, etc. quicker than ambulances.
  • Furthermore, the concept of a military version of the Spartaqs' Hermes V8MD drone fitted with geo-radar is being considered to assist soldiers in the field. Additional drone models being worked on in Poland by Spartaqs include an anti-drone drone, drones capable of traveling through coal mines, reconnaissance drones for border guards and the military, and the Helidrone, which holds two rescue rafts. There is also Prometheus, the invisible drone, which is constructed from a dispersive material containing electronics.

2) 5G Technology

  • In the capital city of Warsaw in Poland, the companies Orange Polska and Ericcson recently initiated a test network for 5G that provide download speeds of up to 900 Mbps. The move was the beginning of attempts to offer businesses and individuals access to a fifth generation network in Poland.
  • These networks function on "an 80 MHz channel in the 3.4 – 3.6 GHz band," which is supplied by the Office of Electronic Communications. Eventually, this particular band is intended to be utilized for the launch of the nation's 5G network.
  • After Orange Polska obtains certain 5G frequencies, it plans to release 5G technology in the country in either the year 2020 or 2021.
  • Moreover, in early September 2019, Poland and the United States entered an agreement to collaborate on the development of brand-new 5G technology amid global fears surrounding Chinese spying and network security.

3) SMODO Technology

  • For the animation industry, SMODO, which was founded by animated film director Grzegorz Waclawek, is a stop-motion technology that consolidates motion capture and classic stop-motion animation.
  • SMODO advances the stop-motion process, helping to lower expenses, particularly for equipment and lighting, and reduce schedules for both production and post-production. The technology also eases work conducted on film sets for stop-motion/animation features.
  • While it permits users to employ traditional stop-motion animation procedures, it also provides the compliance and time advantages afforded by computer animation processes. With SMODO, animators only have to operate the armature of puppets, while a system records markers, allowing the armature's pose to be shifted to 3D software.
  • Furthermore, SMODO technology enables animators to develop digital stage design, while seamlessly shifting the camera and completing any alterations related to lighting.
  • This technology also permits individuals from any age group "to create animation of a standard" that used to be restricted to sizable production businesses and specialists.
  • The SMODO technology became available in Q1 of 2019.

4) Textile Charger

  • A textile charger was developed by Polish researchers from Łódź University of Technology (ŁUT), which professor Kataryzna Grabowska, ŁUT's Faculty of Material Technologies & Textile Design dean, spearheaded. This charger employs power that is produced by an individual's physical activity to charge portable electronic devices, including tablets and phones.
  • It is based on evaluations conducted on the capacities and composition of hybrid, as well as, decorative threads.
  • According to one of the research team's members and the vice dean of Faculty of Material Technologies and Textile Design, Monika Malinowska-Olszowy, the charger generates electricity constantly, permitting devices to be powered and serving as a substitute to virulent power banks and massive batteries.
  • The charger has a "thread for electro-magnetic induction, woven using any weaving or knitting technique into the fabric or cloth of an article of clothing worn by the user." It is situated opposite a stable magnet placed somewhere else in the user's clothing and conducts shuttle movement regarding the thread of electromagnetic induction.
  • It can be installed during clothing production, and it can serve as a separate item. Also, the product is weather resistant and impact resistant.

5) SoftPOS

  • SoftPOS, or Software Point of Sale, is a payment solution developed by First Data, Visa, and Samsung that is undergoing a pilot release in Poland, where the use of contactless payments is noticeably high. This solution permits users to utilize their tablet or smartphone to initiate contactless payments, without any additional equipment. It is designed for use on any mobile device that administers "embedded near-field communication (NFC) functionality."
  • The mobile device belonging to the merchant secures contactless transactions from NFC-enabled technology (e.g., key fobs, wearables, existing contactless cards, and NFC-enabled phones.
  • SoftPOS is considered to be one of the world's most advanced payment solutions.
  • According to Visa's Head of Merchant Sales & Acquirer (Central Eastern Europe), Katarzyna Zubrzycka, the SoftPOS solution will result in "a greater number of domestic points of sale" being capable of accepting forms of contactless payments, which will enable shoppers to use a fast, safe, and user-friendly contactless payment via a smartphone, card, or even a watch.

Part
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Poland - Recent Political Developments

Recent political developments in Poland include the October 2019 elections that saw Poland's right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party win its second term in office. Other notable developments in the past 24 months were the passing of the law that introduced the Sunday trading ban, judicial reforms in 2017 and the enactment of the law that centralized distribution of Public NGO funding.

The Poland Populist Law and Justice Party Won the Second Term in Power

Attack on Poland’s Independent Institutions By Kaczyński

Passing Of the Law That Introduced Sunday Trading Ban

  • The passing of the Polish law that bans all trade on Sunday and that took effect on March 1, 2018, is a major political development in Poland. With the passing of this law, supermarkets, and other retailers closed their shops for the first time since the introduction of the liberal shopping laws in the 1990s.
  • The Sunday trading ban was to be implemented gradually for three years. Under the new law, trading was banned 2 Sundays a month in 2018, 3 Sundays a month in 2019 and a complete prohibition on all Sundays of the month in 2020 with the exception of 7 Sundays including those in the run-up to Easter and Christmas.
  • Noteworthy, the law has 30 exceptions to the ban, and this includes gas stations, bakeries and hotels, stores at the airports, pharmacies, and train stations among others, which are allowed to operate on Sundays.
  • Anyone found infringing the new rules faces a fine of up to 100,000 zlotys (£21,180), with repeat offenders facing a possible prison sentence.
  • In Poland, the Roman Catholic Church has a strong political influence an aspect that made the church support the introduction of this new law.
  • The Sunday trading ban has elicited political debates with pro-opposition parties viewing this new law as an attack on commercial freedom. On the other hand, trade unions in Poland continue to oppose this law arguing that it pushes employees to work for many hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Judicial Reforms In 2017

  • The judicial reforms that took place in 2017 became major political developments in Poland. Three new judicial reforms were adopted in 2017, with the first reform giving the justice minister the powers to appoint and dismiss both the presidents and deputy presidents of the courts.
  • The second and third judicial reforms came into force in 2018. These two reforms undermined the independence of the judiciary even further. For instance, one law gave parliament powers to appoint a majority of members to the Poland National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), a body mandated to nominate judges.
  • In 2018, several disciplinary proceedings were initiated against judges who questioned the politicization of the Poland justice system.

The enactment of the law that centralized distribution of Public NGO funding

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Poland - Recent Environmental Developments

Recent environmental developments in Poland include the country's continuing reliance on fossil fuels, air quality issues, water scarcity, green taxation, and the ban on environmental defenders. In the last two years, Poland has allocated funds to combat the country's environmental issues but is still not meeting EU standards.

Reliance on Fossil Fuels

Clean Air

  • In May 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union determined that Poland has not taken the necessary measures to improve air quality.
  • In June 2018, the Polish government announced a PLN 103 billion budget to thermo-modernize buildings. The “Clean Air” program is available to home-owners from 2018 to 2029.
  • An estimated 48,000 Poles will die from illnesses related to poor air quality annually. The government has announced they will allocate $8.8 billion to combat the air quality problems in Poland.

Water Scarcity

Green Taxation

  • A 2019 European Union report found that Poland has one of the highest revenues from environmentally relevant taxes in the EU. In 2017, it was 2.68 % of GDP, with the EU average being 2.4%.
  • The report indicated that Poland is not using the taxes efficiently to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Poland lacks taxes that encourage the population to be more environmentally friendly. For example, there is not currently a tax on CO2 emissions on cars, a tax would encourage consumers to look for cars with lower CO2 emissions.

Environmental Defenders

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Poland - Recent Economic Developments

The recent economic developments in Poland include record GDP expansion in 2018, the growth slowdown in late 2019, the unemployment rate being at its lowest since 1990 this year, the government's promises to balance the budget and harmonize economic inequalities in 2020, as well as the strong performance of Polish Special Economic Zones.

RECORD ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2018

  • In 2018, Poland's GDP expanded by 5.1%, which marked the highest growth since 2007.
  • The key driver was private consumption, fueled by high levels of consumer confidence and good labor market conditions. Additional factors included increased public and private investment.
  • In 2018, there were forecasts that the country's economic growth in that year would make the wages rise by 8% in 2019-2020.
  • The country continued to note good results in the first quarter of 2019. With GDP expansion of 4.6%, it ranked third in the EU, behind Romania (5.1% growth) and Hungary (5.2% growth). The average figure for all the member states was only 1.5%.
  • According to the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, impressive GDP growth is a result of dynamic businessmen, solid workforce, and combining social responsibility with fast development.

THE ECONOMY SLOWING DOWN IN LATE 2019

  • In the third quarter of 2019, Polish GDP grew by 4.1% year-on-year, compared to 5.6% in the third quarter of 2018.
  • Between Q2 and Q3 2019, investment growth went down from 9.1% to 4.7% year-on-year. Similarly, domestic demand, a major driver for the country's economy, decreased from 4.6% to 3.3%.
  • In the same quarter, there were also small drops in the overall consumption and household consumption.
  • Those results confirm experts' predictions that the country's economy will experience a slowdown, though its pace is slightly faster than predicted.
  • Bank Millennium, a major bank in Poland, says that while it still has "one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU," its most significant drivers are growing weaker. They include "the demand impulse generated by fiscal stimulation" and public investments fueled by EU funds.
  • It is predicted that Polish economic growth will decrease more with a slowdown in the global economy, particularly in Germany, and a further reduction in EU funding.
  • Overall, economists think that the country's growth will fall from 4.3% this year to 3.3% in 2021, which will increase unemployment.
  • However, some of the experts, such as Piotr Szpunar from the National Bank, believe that Poland can keep its strong position in terms of economic growth, despite the unfavorable conditions.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPPING TO A 29-YEAR LOW

  • In September 2019, the unemployment rate in Poland decreased to 5.1%, reaching the lowest point since September 1990.
  • The figure is especially impressive considering that in 2002-2004, the unemployment in the country was over 20%. Then, it was fluctuating, partially due to the global financial crisis. While it went down to 8.8% by 2008, it raised to 14% in 2013.
  • To give the figure more context, out of the European Union countries, the Czech Republic has the lowest unemployment rate of 2.1%, while Greece has the highest — 16.9%.
  • In October, the unemployment rate further dropped to 5.0%, which translates roughly into 840,500 unemployed.
  • It is worth noting that despite the record unemployment, there are more and more job vacancies and an increasing number of the country's businesses is dealing with workforce shortages. For this reason, there is a growing interest in employees from abroad, especially from Ukraine.

STRONG PERFORMANCE OF POLISH SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES

  • According to the experts from the Financial Times group, Polish Special Economic Zones in Katowice and Lodz are among the top in the world, ranking 2nd and 8th, respectively.
  • As noticed by the Polish Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, they were the only European zones to make the top ten.
  • The Katowice Special Economic Zone was acclaimed for its location and infrastructure, as well as for completing 66 projects since the beginning of 2018 and allocating EUR 1.14 billion for investments in several sectors.
  • The Lodz Special Economic Zone got rewarded for its accelerator and other initiatives that foster innovation. One-third of their investments last year went to companies that were already in the zone and wanted to expand. They were also applauded for catering to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Additionally, The Walbrzych Special Economic Zone was noticed for its services for large European companies.

PLANS TO BALANCE THE BUDGET AND FIGHT ECONOMIC INEQUALITIES

  • Despite the economic slowdown, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recently announced that the country's 2020 state budget will be zero-deficit and balanced for the first time since the end of communism.
  • His government's plans include removing the cap on social security contributions and increasing their budget to $1.3 billion.
  • Also, they aim to increase the minimum wage and introduce new welfare programs for the elderly and families with at least three children.
  • In addition, they want to protect Polish households and keep energy prices from rising too significantly.
  • To further support the middle class, the government will invest in modernizing schools and healthcare institutions, as well as support national small- and medium-sized businesses.
  • According to Mateusz Morawiecki, with the Polish economy being strong, it is a good time to fight economic inequalities.
  • Overall, the plan is supposed to help create a broad middle class and transform Poland into a welfare state.



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