The ‘Free Cities Pact’, English proficiency rankings and ‘satellites of the seas’

Warsaw and CEE cities unite in a power bloc to engage directly with Brussels, Poles ranked 11th among the world’s best non-native English speakers, NOA Marine to launch its first commercial ‘satellite of the sea’ project and 30 new graduates complete AmCham’s mentorship programme.
Macro Bite: Warsaw seeks direct funding line to Brussels through power bloc of CEE cities

The Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, revealed on Tuesday that he intends to travel to Budapest next Monday to sign the ‘Free Cities Pact’ with the mayors of Prague, Bratislava and Budapest. 

Trzaskowski said that the agreement is designed to facilitate cooperation between the cities over issues around climate change, funding and development projects. He added that this power bloc of liberal-leaning cities aims to explore avenues to gain direct access to EU cohesion and structural funds, regardless of the political direction of their respective national governments.

The announcement comes as EU 27 member states prepare to meet in Brussels tonight for a two-day summit with the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework at the top of the agenda.

Finland, the current holder of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, recently attracted widespread criticism – including from European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen – for its 51-page budgetary proposal, which was leaked before its official release on Monday.

Firstly, the proposal calls for the overall budget to be reduced to 1.07% of the combined GNI of member states – a notably lower figure than the 1.114% put forward in an EU draft budget from May 2018. Even at 1.114%, Poland would see its funding cut by 23%, as reported last year.

Secondly, Finland and other member states are reportedly pushing for the next funding allocation to be conditional on the adherence of democratic principles, climate change action and immigration policy. 

Konrad Szymański, Poland’s European Affairs Minister, responded on Tuesday by criticising the proposal’s drastic cuts and arguing that the rule of law should remain under the prerogative of each sovereign state.

Nano Bite I: Poles ranked 11th among the world’s best non-native English speakers

Education First (EF), an international education company, released its annual English Proficiency Index in which it ranks 100 countries and regions by English skills. According to the report, Poland ranked 11th among the world’s best non-native English speakers, just one position and 0.26 points behind Germany. 

This places Poland in the Very High Proficiency band and among leading nations such as the Netherlands (1st), Sweden (2nd) and Norway (3rd). Poland’s score improved slightly from last year by 1.31 points. 

In terms of cities, Warsaw ranked 10th in the Very High Proficiency band, just 0.04 points behind Hamburg. Poland also ranked Very High in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index. 

According to EF, over 2 million volunteers mostly under the age of 40 (90%) participated in the international study.

Micro Bite: NOA Marine to launch its first commercial ‘satellite of the sea’ project
Visualization of a NOA Marine bionic and autonomous underwater drone

NOA Marine, a Kraków-based startup specialising in underwater drone technology, announced its first pilot project after signing a letter of commitment with Mewo SA last Thursday. Mewo SA, according to the statement, is Poland’s largest privately-owned marine survey and subsea engineering company, servicing the marine energy industry in the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Southern North Sea. 

Dubbed as ‘the satellites of the seas’, NOA Marine has spent the last three years developing and patenting bionic and autonomous underwater drones designed to navigate under the sea surface for extended periods of time while collecting real-time data. This data is valuable for offshore oil, gas and renewables projects, as well as marine biologists.

The startup claims that the technology will make undersea exploration safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Nano Bite II: 30 new graduates complete AmCham’s mentorship programme
The graduates celebrated their achievement at CulinaryOn.

Young future business leaders recently graduated from the “30 under 30” programme run by the American Chamber of Commerce in Poland (AmCham). For the fifth year running, 30 aspiring professionals under the age of 30 from various AmCham member companies participated in monthly sessions with representatives from large global companies and were mentored in areas such as management, capital markets and negotiation 101. 

One of the mentors, Marcin Petrykowski, Managing Director of S&P Global Ratings, said the programme is “not only a platform for exchanging contacts and knowledge but also for sharing experiences and discussions on responsibility, as well as values ​​that should guide business.” 

To test their new skills, participants were also divided into teams to prepare a project for the Ronald McDonald Foundation. President of the Polish board of the foundation, Krzysztof Kłapa, said he was positively surprised at their openness and interest in corporate social responsibility.

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Written by: Poland Today Team