Horizon CEE'24: ambitious goals for decision-makers

Luc Williams

During the conference held in Warsaw, the main goals for the European Union, the government and local governments included: ensuring security and economic stability and transforming cities into environmentally and resident-friendly metropolises.

The first panel on this topic, “Poland in the EU – challenges of the new reality”, concerned primarily issues related to security and migration. These areas seem particularly important, especially in the face of the changes that will take place in Brussels after the last elections to the European Parliament. Although, as the Masovian Voivode Mariusz Frankowski argued, Ursula von der Leyen's position as a candidate for the President of the European Commission is not at risk, many concerns are raised by the political situation in France and the early elections ordered by President Emanuel Macron. Changes in the EU may also mean the need to revise some of the policies promoted so far, including those related to environmental protection.
– There is some reflection around the Green Deal. Not only the Polish government, which proposes the necessary corrections, but also other EU countries recognize the need for changes, said Arkadiusz Myrcha, Deputy Minister of Justice and KO MP.

Prof. spoke on security in the context of the EU during Horizon CEE'24. Tomasz Siemiątkowski from the Głuchowski Siemiątkowski Zwara Adwokaci i Radcowie Prawni law firm. According to him, the European Union is not prepared in the event of possible aggression from Russia. The expert pointed out the need to introduce an integrated defense strategy for all EU countries.
– Today, incompatible defense systems are purchased, even outside the EU. The European Union plans to make 35% of its arms purchases by 2023. came from the arms industry of member countries. However, the question arises whether these purchases will be used wisely within the framework of the EU's common defense policy. I do not expect that a strategic defense system for the European Union will be created in the near future. The negligence in this area is huge – said prof. Tomasz Siemiątkowski.

The former deputy prime minister and minister of finance, prof. Leszek Balcerowicz drew attention to the need for urgent changes in the Polish economy, which, as he assessed, had been subjected to populist politics for the last eight years. In this context, the economist talked about nationalization, increasing budget spending and increasing the deficit. Professor Leszek Balcerowicz therefore drew attention to the need to carry out privatization in Poland. According to the data he presented, Poland is one of the leading EU countries with the highest rate of state-managed enterprises and is the leader in terms of deficit. According to the former deputy prime minister, the solutions to improving the economic position are increasing the retirement age and abandoning at least some of the social programs.

In the discussion on local government, “Smart Cities: How to develop cities in a sustainable way?” experts from the world of science, local government and business debated how to modernize metropolises and adapt them to the needs of residents who primarily expect comfort.
When asked to list urban amenities that could be considered a feature of a smart city, the former mayor of Warsaw, prof. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz indicated: the development of public transport, the introduction of city bicycles to the capital, the creation of road infrastructure for them and the modernization of the Vistula Boulevards so that they are an attractive space for spending free time for the capital's residents.
– Another noteworthy initiative is the creation of local centers, i.e. places in each district where cultural and social life is concentrated and where the most important everyday services are located. Thanks to this solution, you don't have to go to the city center every time – said prof. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.

Wojciech Trojanowski, member of the management board of STRABAG, and Rafał Winkiel, general director of Develia Construction, pointed to the important role that thoughtful design of residential and utility architecture has to play in transforming cities into modern and comfortable metropolises.
– Over the last 20 years, we have mainly been building new facilities. Today the situation has changed a bit. A big challenge in the context of smart cities and zero emissions will be not only the construction of new facilities, but also the modernization of existing ones. It is primarily about adapting apartments and office buildings in terms of energy, said Wojciech Trojanowski.

The speakers unanimously agreed that the key to success in transforming metropolises into smart cities was: fruitful cooperation between local government officials and entrepreneurs, law supporting the efficient implementation of investments and the involvement of residents themselves in communicating the solutions they most expect from their authorities.

– As a resident, what I expect from a smart city is, above all, a better quality of life. A smart city is one that lives up to the slogan: “Easier, healthier, more accessible and cheaper.” The company I represent, Veolia, is responsible for the basic infrastructure that cannot be replaced by any digital technology, i.e. the heating network, water and sewage system, which is the lifeblood of the city. Thanks to our activities, we are developing this infrastructure in line with the process of decarbonization of cities, creating the foundations for their further development – said Dr. Hab. Krzysztof Zamasz, vice-president and commercial director of the Veolia Group in Poland.

– Thinking smart means designing a city in the perspective of several generations. Wisely marking out streets or deciding on the purpose of specific districts are solutions that can make life easier for residents for decades, said Dr. Adam Czerniak, professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, research director at the Polityka Insight Analytical Center.


Luc's expertise lies in assisting students from a myriad of disciplines to refine and enhance their thesis work with clarity and impact. His methodical approach and the knack for simplifying complex information make him an invaluable ally for any thesis writer.