Warsaw blog

1st March, 2014

Relations between Ireland and Poland have never been better. Both countries’ membership of the European Union, and the the free movement principle that comes with it, has driven greater interaction and stronger relations between us. This has resulted in an estimated 350,000 Poles coming to Ireland and making it their home since Poland joined the EU, under Ireland’s Presidency of the Council, in 2004.

In a bid to further deepen that relationship, I travelled to Warsaw on Thursday to meet with my opposite number, the Polish Minister for European Affairs, Piotr Serafin, to discuss issues of mutual concern. Dialogue centred around the structure of the EU, developments in Ukraine, and the upcoming EPP Congress next week in Dublin, which will be attended by the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk.

We also touched briefly on the matter that has been before the Irish courts in respect of the difficulties between some of our road construction companies and the Polish Roads Authority. That issue was discussed at length during a meeting held earlier in the day with the Minister for Infrastructure and Development, Zbigniew Rynasiewicz. Ensuring that the channels of communication remain open is central to the resolution of any dispute. This case is no different.

As always, when I am overseas representing Ireland, I gave a public address. This time it was to the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), which is a leading, independent think-tank in the capital. The title of the address was ‘An Irish Perspective on a European Future’, which examined the relationship between Ireland and Poland, the recovery Ireland has made following the meltdown of our economy and our countries’ shared agenda as committed members of the EU.

My day drew to a closed with a reception at the Embassy for Irish members of the business and student community. I was genuinely surprised at the extent of the Irish student population in Warsaw, which comes to nearly 90 of our young men and women; half of whom are studying veterinary. It’s always good to be able to have this level of engagement on overseas trips and to ensure that the links are reinforced with the Irish community living abroad.

A great day. Long fascinated with Polish history and literature, look forward to coming back to further work on issues that matter to us both. Also look forward to welcoming Minister Serafin to Dublin.