The book summarizes a multidimensional study of the benefits and costs of three processes connected with European integration. The time caesura has been determined by three anniversaries: unification of Germany (1990-2014 - the 25th anniversary), creation of the Eurozone (1999-2013; 15 years) and accession of 10 states to the European Union, including Poland (as well as Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary; May 2004-April 2014; 10 years). We analyse the genesis, course and effects of these processes. We focus on economic and political aspects determined by the legal timeframe; however, at the same time we do not omit the social aspects of these processes. We perceive them from Poland's perspective, enlarged by a regional dimension. Thus, we examine Poland's role and rank with reference to the above mentioned processes and their impact on Poland.
The EU enlargement in 2004 was unique and spectacular. During the European Council Meeting (EU Summit) in Copenhagen in December 2002 representatives of the current and acceding member states noticed a great moment for Europe. During the summit, accession negotiations between the EU and Poland, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia were conducted. The representatives declared their aim as One Europe. This idea was directly linked with an idea of one European currency. In 1999, the concepts of European currency became a reality. The introduction of such a currency was possible also due to the earlier unification of the two German states and Germany's commitment to replace the Deutsche Mark by a single European currency (the euro). Before launching the euro, the Deutsche Mark used to play an important role as an international currency with the reputation of one of the world's most stable currencies. A deeper integration in the framework of (west) European political and economic structures seems to be a necessary condition for the unification of the two German states. Thus, these three processes: unification of Germany, creation of the Eurozone and - the biggest in history and the most difficult - EU enlargement in 2004 appear to be the milestones along the route to One Europe (Europe without frontiers). However, this concept is still under way, and this book contains the analysis of the role of these processes in building One Europe.
The prevalent part of the empirical study embraces the decade beginning with Poland's accession to the EU. We believe that the period 2004-2014 is long enough to reveal the direction and size of the changes. The study embracing a longer period of time enables, in turn, the analysis of phenomena occurring after the unification of Germany, during ongoing monetary integration and preparation of 10 states for the accession. Especially, huge changes have been expected in economies of the states that were implementing the systemic transformation. Not only were they making a transition "from plan to market" in national economies and establishing new political, social and economic institutions, but they were also opening to international cooperation, which required substantial adjustments. Carrying out the changes enabled them to accede to the EU, gathering democratic states with a high level of development.
Although the analysis concerns anniversaries and should be finished in 2014, we sometimes exceed this timeframe also considering 2015, that is, the last year for which statistical data were available while conducting the study.
The unique characteristics of this book is the fact that the authors have presented outcomes of the study of a wide range of variables and indicators concerning the main forms of cooperation and economic activity of Poland and the remaining new member states, especially including states, which together with Poland became the EU members (i.e., New Member States, NMS), as well as subregions of regional integration of the EU.
We dedicate a lot of space to Germany within 25 years, which, in 2014, passed since its unification. The designated rank reflects a fundamental significance of the unification of Germany for European and world's security, as well as deepening and extending European integration. The unification of Germany embodying the end of the Cold War (the ultimate elimination of the effects of WWII in Europe), enabled - from our point of view - enlargement of the (west) European security community by the states of Central and Eastern Europe, and later Southern Europe. The unification made (unified, not divided) Germany Poland's neighbour, which contributed to the rapid growth of reciprocal trade and capital ties. This process was reinforced by changes in Polish economy resulting from the preparation for Poland's membership in the EU. In a new architecture of the European and world's security, Poland's participation in international organizations - economic (OECD, WTO), political (the Council of Europe) and defense (NATO) ones became possible, which opened Poland's way to EU membership. Participation in these organizations enhanced Poland's position in politics and the world's economy. At any time, Poland's strategic partner was, except for the U.S., unified Germany. It was also Poland's dominating economic partner. Incorporating Poland and Germany into economic and political structures of the EU and NATO made both states safer. Poland gained the position of a strong and effective member of the Alliance, which strengthens its external security towards the countries that do not belong to the EU and NATO. (Western) Germany, in turn, ceased to be a border state of the Schengen Area.
Outcomes of the studies presented in this book confirm the fact that the economic crisis revealed advantages of leaving Poland outside the Eurozone. Depreciation of the PLN contributed to an increase in competitiveness of Polish goods. However, in accordance with our analysis, it is not necessarily a good scenario for the future. Together with progressing integration, the increasing transaction cost of remaining outside the Eurozone can urge Poland to participate in it. The Eurozone's members, though, bear lower transaction costs of cooperation. Simultaneously, substantial differences among the Eurozone's members impede functioning of the euro and weaken its international position.
Undoubtedly, the Eurozone's existence and the fact that numerous member states remain outside it differentiate the EU members. The existence of different levels of integration is important and unfavorable for Poland and the whole EU. Regarding the benefits from the common currency, the ties among the Eurozone's members (at least some of them) are tightening. At the same time, similar integration processes do not occur among the Eurozone's members and the remaining EU states, as well as the EU states outside the Eurozone. It poses a threat of long- -lasting divergence within the EU.
The book consists of nine chapters. They all are interconnected, even if the first three chapters are more general than the following ones. The first three chapters are interdisciplinary and go far beyond economics concerning political, social, legal and econometric issues.
The following six chapters are monothematic in their nature as they raise yarious aspects of international trade. The reader will find there a generał analysis of the position of trade in Poland and other EU member states' current account balances (CAB), as well as Poland's trade with partners from the EU and the rest of the world. More detailed problems are tackled in the further chapters, e.g. the question of the real nationality of goods exported from Poland is answered. Moreover, there is discussed Poland's intra-industry trade seen as the most modern type of international trade nowadays.
The three generał chapters are organized as following: in Chapter 1 Elżbieta Czarny and Jerzy Menkes connect changes in the nature and membership of the EU with economic and political developments in Europe and all over the world. In this context, of special importance is German unification seen as a trigger for deepening of European integration, creation of the Eurozone and the biggest EU enlargement in 2004. Chapter 2 written by Paweł Folfas consists of an analysis of absolute income (GDPper capita) beta-convergence among regions in the new EU member states before and during the global economic crisis that started in autumn 2008. The Author presents the results for the years 2000-2008 and 2008-2011; the analysed period starts just after the creation of the Eurozone and finishes after the last global economic crisis. In this chapter the Author also scrutinizes the power of spatial dependencies between regions of the NMS. It is important for evaluating Poland's position among the post-communist states, which underwent a systemic transformation process and adjusted to the EU membership. Additionally, this chapter contains a study on convergence and spatial relationships between German NUTS 3 level regions in the context of the unification of Germany. It allows to answer the question about the reality of creation of one economy from two totally different economic and political parts constituting two German states before the unification. This study covers the period 1992-2012 because of the lack of availability of further data. Chapter 3 by Andżelika Kuźnar presents the EU as a creator of international standards of the protection of intellectual property rights in the case of geographical indications (GI). It gives a broad perspective while comparing the EU-GI system with the U.S. and multilateral approaches. Economic, cultural and political reasons for the disagreement between the EU and U. S. on the desired level of GI-labelled goods
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