Q: What is your assessment of Poland’s current economic competitiveness?

A: The most important [challenge] is sustainable development and our track record over the last 20 years gives us confidence, which is crucial, because we now have a generation that does not know what recession is about. [This generation is] quite optimistic, which is good these days because growth is not only driven by investment or by exports, but also by consumption and confidence.

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In the earlier years of our economic transition, our Western neighbours alleged that Poland was unpredictable historically and therefore risky for investment. As a result they missed [out on some good] opportunities in the 1990s because they simply did not bet on Poland and Polish development.

So being predictable, creating confidence and developing in a sustainable way is important, maybe even critical, in this volatile environment. [Here] we can do more and we can do it better.

Q: What lessons do you think other countries could learn from Poland’s, given that it has been a major success story in terms of economic development?

A: There is one major achievement I think we should be particularly proud of: the fact that we have managed to develop democracy and a market economy at the same time. We managed this whole transition, reaching a kind of political consensus, [while being] as inclusive as possible. It was not easy. We tried to distribute the benefits of the transformation throughout a broad representation of the public.

This was very important, because in the majority of the transition countries, whether you can manage to transform economy and political life simultaneously is one of the most important challenges.

Q: What do you see as the most pressing economic challenges that Poland will face in the next five years? If you were prime minister now, what would be keeping you up at night with worry?

A: I think the new government is doing its job very well, meeting the challenges of today and the future, which are related to the pace of utilisation of EU resources. This is more difficult than [it has previously been] because much more money has to be committed to research and development and more sophisticated spending items.

At the same time, we should try to tackle bureaucracy, which is of course a never-ending story; we should try to improve competitiveness; and we should deliver a top-class education to the younger generation, which is of course very challenging.

Another challenge, which is quite new but unfortunately more and more significant, is keeping talent in the country. Maybe 10 or even five years ago, the search for talent in Poland was not particularly penetrative, but today scouts are everywhere, trying to recruit young sportsmen, young academics, young students.

Whenever you are good at football or mathematics or IT or any kind of engineering or if you are a gifted student, then you have hundreds of offers immediately from the best international centres. So you can go to [Oxford or Cambridge University in the UK], you can work for the best companies. We have to keep the talent in the country and give [young people] enough opportunities here. This is the new challenge, unknown to us, but very difficult and very demanding.