Meeting with a very positive response amongst the international trade audience at A+A 2009 was an information event on the development of the market for personal protective equipment in Russia. Following on from the success of this information event, at A+A 2011 a country has now been “officially” selected as a partner nation boasting comparably high market potential and very ambitious objectives in terms of cutting the number of accidents at work and increasing work quality – that nation being Poland.
Poland and Germany have many close economic and political ties. Germany is the most important importer of Polish goods and products. At the same time, no other country exports more goods to Poland than Germany.
Poland has a population of almost 40 million people and in 2009 it achieved a new national average employment high with the number of gainfully employed people reaching 15.9 million. Over the past few years, economic growth rates have been above average compared to other European countries. Those areas particularly stimulating growth proved to be the building sector and industrial production – both economic areas with jobs requiring high levels of protection. The need for, and interest in, personal protective equipment as well as products and services related to occupational health and safety is correspondingly high.
In addition to these facts this year Europe (and not just experts in occupational health and safety at the workplace) will be looking towards and at Poland for another key reason. This is because in the second half of the year the country will take over the EU presidency and consequently be in this office during A+A 2011.
All eyes are on Poland to see what impulses its leadership will trigger in Europe – for instance in terms of the EU economic programme “Europe 2020”. This programme picks up on the positive developments of the “Lisbon Strategy” for a dynamic, competitive Europe originally only pursued and devised for the 2000 to 2010 period.
With a comprehensive reform programme Poland implemented this overriding strategy as well as the “European Social Agenda” whose aims include the creation of more and better jobs at national level. Success here is already visible. While labour productivity in 2003 stood at just 62% of the average figure across the 27 EU states, four years later the figure had already risen to 67%.
Alongside the debate on the country-specific strategies pursued throughout Europe on creating more jobs, better work and more effective occupational safety another topic likely to be a talking point at A+A 2011 is the impact of the new “EU Service Directive”. If legal and administrative barriers are to be overcome to create a borderless, free market for services it is clear that it is also necessary to push ahead with harmonising and implementing uniform standards for occupational safety so that workplace quality stands at comparably high levels across the EU.
Key impulses for this will be made by A+A 2011 and its partner nation Poland. In addition to a joint stand of Polish exhibitors and the visit by a high-ranking political delegation, an information and discussion event on the Polish market for personal protective equipment is also a firm fixture on the agenda.