The Regional and Economic Diplomacy Summit (REDS), organised by the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology (MPiT) of the Republic of Poland took place over Monday and Tuesday, 09-10.09.2019, at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Centre in Warsaw, Poland.
Economic diplomacy is widely understood as the practice of advancing the economic interests of a state. All in all, to a considerably extensive degree, the national income and economic prosperity of a state do determine its position on the international arena. Yet, at the same time, the same economic prosperity of the state is determined by accumulated activity all across the scale-spectrum. Hence the notion of the need to “demonstrate the importance of international cooperation as a leading force for the development of local communities”, as explained on the REDS webpage.
Forasmuch REDS was the manifestation of culminated efforts and savvy strategizing to address this need – it was definitely more than just that. The event served also as a launchpad for accelerating the very things it showcased that had been achieved. Pivotal amongst these, was the facilitating of engagement between regional and more local governments with partners from abroad, evoking an internationalisation more directly the economic efforts at these levels, and hence more efficiently; a practise which is referred to as “self-government diplomacy” or “regional diplomacy”, in this case with regard to economic diplomacy.
Mr. Marcin Ociepa, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology of the Republic of Poland and President of the Organizing Committee, emphasised during the summit that it was the intention for it to be organised from the bottom up.
The geopolitical quarterly The Warsaw Institute Review and think tank Warsaw Institute had the honour to be partners in this endeavour of organising REDS, of which it is no exaggeration to say was momentous in its meaningfulness and impact.
On the morning of Monday 09.09.2019, the participating Heads of Delegations gathered for a family photo. These included those at the state level, from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Germany, as well as at the regional level, from Hautes-de-France, Galicia, Veneto, Lombardy and Ajaria.
The Opening Ceremony was introduced by the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology of the Republic of Poland, Ms. Jadwiga Emilewicz, and the Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Mr. Ludger Schuknecht.
Ms. Jadwiga Emilewicz elaborated on some mechanics of economic diplomacy, highlighting also the timing of REDS is pertinent because “we are on the eve of the most vital phase of shaping the next Multiannual Financial Framework of the European Union”. Furthermore, the Minister explained that it is her hope REDS “will elicit such an effect that the European economy would again set trends, so that Europe would become great once more”.
In effect, this would be but a contribution from Poland to elevating the position of Europe on the international arena by means of suavely facilitating and bettering even further economic functionality.
It is worth noting, a ‘cluster’ refers to an organised group of entities in a particular field – SMEs, local government representatives, NGOs, institutions, etc. – which, as a group, coordinate their efforts towards an overarching goal in the field. This ensures efficiency in contributions, with benefits for each of the member entities as well as better results in attaining the said overarching goals.
Immediately following the opening remarks, a core special event of REDS followed the opening remarks; the Signing the Warsaw declaration for the establishment of the European Clusters Alliance.
Those signing the declaration included:
- Managing Director of Bulgarian Clusters Association Genoveva Christova-Murray,
- General Director of ALPHA RLH Cluster Herve Floch,
- President of IKOSZ Hungarian National Alliance of Innovative Clusters Gál Körmendy,
- Manager of Food Products Quality Cluster and Chairman of the Board of Latvian Food Competence Center Armands Lejas-Krumins,
- Director of Lithuanian Food Exporters Association Giedrius Bagusinskas,
- President of Polish Clusters Association Krzysztof Krystowski,
- President of Romanian Cluster Association Daniel Cosnita,
- President of Spanish Federation of Innovative Business Groups and Clusters Antonio Novo,
It did indeed mark a significant step for economic diplomacy but most importantly, in the form of a concrete and tangible result.
Later, following the keynote speeches of the regional Heads of Delegations, and Opening Plenary Session I: Clusters Session, pertaining to the topic of ‘Clusters as a Competitive Advantage of Regions’, there was the Plenary Session II, Ministerial Debate, which entailed a high level discussion.
Mr. Marcin Ociepa, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology of the Republic of Poland and President of the Organizing Committee, moderated the session, and began by underlining how the perceived importance of economic policies pursued by a state has changed over time, with a most recent and most needed uptick of regard from the international arena. The Panel featured:
- Minister of State for Economic Strategy and Regulation, Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology, László György,
- Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Vladimír Bärtl,
- State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Lukáš Parízek
- State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Claudia Dörr-Voß,
- Undersecretary of State for Eastern Policy, Development Cooperation and Economic Diplomacy, Marcin Przydacz,
Slovakian State Secretary Lukáš Parízek, during the plenary session that day, which happened to be his birthday (happy birthday by the way!) elaborated on the methods applied in Slovakia, where the MFA first asks the needs of local enterprises, gathers information, and then finds ways to apply them from the centrality.
Another intriguing topic was relevant particularly to some Honorary Consuls present in the audience, and how do various countries on the Ministerial level engage with their Honorary Consuls to further economic diplomacy.
On the second day, Tuesday 10.09.2019, Dr. Beata Lubos of MPiT opened with an illumination of how actions aimed at supporting clusters should be diversified at regional and central levels.
Actions taken at the regional level are intended to create new cluster initiatives and to invigorate already existing clusters in the region by means of bolstering the clusters’ functionality, as well as enlivening the expansion of cluster cooperation with large enterprises, business environment institutions, local government units, and research centres. As such, these actions at the regional level are pertinent in order to achieve greater coherence of the cluster’s operationality, and also the development of new products and services of the cluster’s innovative services.
Moreover, actions carried out at the central level are to strengthen concentrated efforts and resources on a specific, selected group of Key National Clusters (KNC), which are understood to be clusters of substantial importance for the country’s economy and the level of its international competitiveness.
Here, in a surprise announcement, 11 clusters were awarded the status of KNC, having passed all the verification and evaluation stages from the MPiT open contest.
In today’s circumstances, the competitiveness of an economy is grounded on, to an increasingly steeper degree, on research, development and innovation (R, D & I) as well as the abilities to dynamically absorb new technologies, to partake in their creation, and further their development.
Throughout the second day, alongside the panels, there was an exhibition of stands. We hope you visited the stalls – and most particularly, the stall just by the entrance to the main hall, which was, of course, that of the geopolitical Warsaw Institute (WI) think tank and Warsaw Institute Review (WIR) quarterly. We were glad to present our publications and works to some new people, and see those again that came by to say hello!
In the same area, an abundance of networking, contact bridging and debating took place. Inter alia, it is at events like this that the gathering of individuals that ideas are conceived, missing parts of concepts are filled in, and projects taken forward.
Minister Marcin Ociepa underscored in his closing remarks that “… and it is due time we began contemplating solutions to global predicaments – pertinent to changes in the economy, industry 4.0, climate change, Brexit, trade wars – together with our partners, without whom, [these problems] cannot be confronted”. REDS was a culmination of efforts since it was conceptualised a year and a half ago. As a signature contribution from Poland, it is our hope this event, having made a tangible effort to elevate the status of Europe on the world geopolitical chessboard, “will resonate for a long time across a multitude of places in Europe”, and continue cyclically, in a steadfast yet deliberate undertaking.