The Dutch economy is dependent on Polish workers for the time being, said Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende during a working visit to Poland on Wednesday.
At the same time the labour market and wages in their own country are improving which will make it attractive for Poles to return, the prime minister is quoted by ANP news service as saying.
There are around 100,000 eastern European workers in Holland at present, most of them Polish, says ANP. The influx of Polish workers – and the possibility that they may be followed by workers from Bulgaria and Romania – is a politically sensitive issue.
Balkenende’s comments were supported by Bernard Wientjes, chairman of employers’ organisation VNO-NCW, who is part of the Dutch business delegation that is accompanying Balkenende in Poland. Nevertheless Wientjes said that he did not expect tens of thousands of Poles to leave the Netherlands.
A number of representatives from major Dutch businesses including Philips, ING, Rabobank and Shell held talks with the Polish vice premier Vlademir Pawlak on Wednesday. They are lobbying for improvements in the investment climate for foreign firms in Poland where the Netherlands is traditionally a major investor.
On the political front, the Polish government on Wednesday accepted an offer by European affairs minister Frans Timmermans for diplomatic support when Poland takes over the European Union presidency in the second half of 2011. The Netherlands is providing similar assistance to Slovenia which currently holds the EU presidency.
Balkenende is also expected to exert pressure on the Polish government to ratify the treaty to reform the EU, says ANP. ‘I don’t think the Poles have anything to complain about. It is in everyone’s interest that we ratify [the treaty] quickly,’ the ANP quotes him as saying.
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