Posts Tagged ‘jacek rostocki’

Railway roundabout

Monday, 10 September 2012

Jacek Rostocki, Poland’s Finance Minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009. Mr Rostocki shares Mrs Thatcher’s antipathy to rail, but seems to have been persuaded that Poland would not get its share of the next tranche of EU funding if it did not continue to invest in improvements to its rail network. Photo by World Economic Forum.

(Click image to see original on and for details of licensing.)

It has been a crazy fortnight. After having spent some 10 years hiding in a quiet backwater of Poland, my alter ego has suddenly been rediscovered. The consequence are a drastic change of lifestyle. Instead of resting, generally avoiding work and only doing the odd bit of translation when the pile of bills gets too high, I’m suddenly in demand.

An urgent summons to attend the Economic Forum in the mountains near Poland’s border down South is followed by an important business meeting the next day up North on the coast. Rushing up and down the country by train is very pleasant, and results in many adventures which really deserve to be written up on BTWT, but the need to read briefing notes, plan my meetings and generally be prepared, takes away a great deal of time which was previously spent updating the blog. So I would like to apologise to all BTWT’s readers and friends – a big personal “Sorry!” for the break in service that has occurred.

And it is not just my personal life that has been in turmoil: hardly had the e-ink dried from our last post announcing a draconian cut in the infrastructure grant for PKP PLK, when there was a massive reversal of government policy and Andrzej Massel, the Secretary of State for railways, announced that, instead of there being less funds for rail in 2013, there would actually be more!

We are still reading the tea leaves on this about turn, but it does seem that someone very senior in government realised that the next tranche of the EU funds for infrastructure are to have a stronger pro-sustainable transport bias than hitherto, and that if the Polish government wanted its fair share of the EU cake, it would not get away with diverting nearly all its EU infrastructure funding support to building new roads as it had done hitherto.

As if this wasn’t wasn’t enough, for the first time in over 40 years the number of passengers carried by Poland’s railways has actually increased. Of course some of this increase is due to Euro 2012, but a careful reading of the statistics indicates that the increase in passenger carryings has been sustained, even after the championships were finished.

All in all, 2013 heralds to be an exciting year. BTWT intends to be there and we look forward to having you along for the ride.


Nowak takes transport post

Friday, 18 November 2011

Slawomir Nowak. Still from election video.

(Click image to see video.) (PL)

In his post-election cabinet reshuffle Poland’s Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, has chosen Slawomir Nowak to head up the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Maritime Affairs (formerly called the Ministry of Infrastructure). Because Poland holds the Presidency of the EU, the reshuffle had been postponed for a month so as not to disturb business with other EU members. Tusk’s new cabinet emphasises continuity in Poland’s international relations, and enhances the reputations of the Ministers responsible for Poland’s relations with the outside world.

Oxford-educated, Radek Sikorski retains the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and London School of Economics graduate, Jacek Rostocki, keeps control of the Finance Ministry. Other Ministers that retain their posts are: the Minister of Defence, Tomasz Siemioniak; the Minister of Economic Affairs, Waldemar Pawlak; the Minister of Regional Development, Elzbieta Bienkowska (the post includes responsibility for administering EU funds); the Minister of Agriculture, Marek Sawicki; the Minister of Higher Education, Barbara Kudrycka; and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski (the person ultimately responsible for Poland’s railway heritage).

Newcomers to their portfolios are: Michal Boni, Minister of Administration and Digitalisation (split off from the Ministry of Internal Affairs); Jaroslaw Gowin, Minister of Justice; Jacek Cichocki, Minister of Internal Affairs; Mikolaj Budzanowski, Treasury Minister; Marcin Korolec, Minister of Environment; Bartosz Arlukowicz, Minister of Health; Wladyslaw Kamysz-Kosiniak, Minister of Labour; Krystyna Szumilas, Minister of Education; Joanna Mucha, the Minister of Sport and Tourism (with ‘dotted line’ responsibility for Poland’s tourist railways); and Tomasz Arabski, Head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery and Chairman of the Council of Ministers.

Slawomir Nowak was born in Gdansk in 1974. He studied at the University of Gdansk and Gdynia Martime University. At the age of 20, while still a student, he started his own advertising business. He was also briefly the chairman of Radio Gdansk. He entered politics in 1993 as a member of the Liberal Democratic Congress which was led by Donald Tusk. Political consolidations and fractions led Nowak in turn to membership of  the Democratic Union (UD), the Freedom Union (UW) and finally, in 2001, the Civic Platform (PO), the party that retains his affiliation to this day.

Nowak has acquired a reputation as a go-getter. In 2004, he became a MEP. In 2007, he was elected a member of Poland’s lower legislative chamber, the Sejm, becoming at the same time a Secretary of State in the Chancellery and the head of the Prime Minister’s political cabinet. Between 2009 and 2010, he was head of the PO’s parliamentary party. In 2010, he became head of the PO’s Pomorze region and during the presidential elections, held later that year, he was head of the winning candidate’s, Bronislaw Komorski’s, campaign team. He was subsequently, appointed Secretary of State in the President’s Chancellery with responsibility for parliamentary and governmental relations, automatically loosing his parliamentary seat  In the October 2011 elections, he was again elected to the Sejm.

In his election video, Nowak cites infrastructure development as one of his three priorities as an MP. Unlike most of his parliamentary colleagues, as Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Affairs, he will actually be in a position where he can do something about his promise.

Reverse Polish logic

Friday, 6 February 2009
 580_elzbieta-bienkowska    rostocki
Elzbieta Bienkowska    Jan Vincent Rostocki

Elzbieta Bienkowska, Poland’s Minister for Regional Development, announced towards the end of December that the Government regarded EU-funded infrastructure projects as an important tool in preventing a recession in Poland’s economy, and that some 15 billion zloty would be brought forward for spending on infrastructure projects in 2009 – mainly the construction of motorways.

Poland has agreed with the EU to spend 3 zloty on rail infrastructure projects out of every 10 zloty of EU funds spent on infrastructure, so although Bienkowska did not mention rail explicitly, there was reason to hope that there would be a trickle down effect on rail investment.

comparison_cee101EU funding per transport mode. Source UIC

Actually, Poland is barely spending 25% of its EU infrastructure budget on rail, while the Czech Republic and Slovenia are both spending 40%. Anyway, there is now no need to worry that rail won’t be getting a fair share. When Finance Minister ‘Jacek’ Rostocki returned from his extended Christmas-New Year holiday in Britain, he threw a wobbly that Bienkowska had dared to solve Poland’s share of the global economic meltdown without him. He has now come up with his own rescue plan – Poland will need save an additional 20 billion zloty with the majority of the cuts coming from infrastructure projects such as road building.

So that’s all right then.