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Poland`s Presidency of the Council of the European Union

On 1 July 2011 Poland will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time in history. Seen in the perspective of Poland’s membership in the Union, this will be the most important event since the country’s accession. The presidency of the European Union, even though it is a major challenge in terms of strategic planning and the level of political and organisational activity - both on the national and European scale - it is also a great opportunity to participate directly in mapping the future course of action of the European Union.

Holding presidency enables a country, on the one hand, to have a greater influence on EU decisions, to define the political priorities on the Union forum, to indicate the most crucial areas and to put forward own ideas and initiatives. On the other hand, it obliges the presiding country to ensure the continuity and smooth operation of the Union`s activities, as well as guaranteeing that its voice on matters important to the world be well heard. The success of a presidency is the best promotion for a country and an opportunity to boost its image.

The work of the Council of the European Union and its preparatory bodies in essence consists in creating the law. They make decisions of material relevance to almost 500 million citizens of the Member States. To raise public awareness of this, over 300 meetings are going to be held across our country, involving over 30 thousand delegates from all EU countries. The cities hosting the top-level meetings are: Sopot, Wrocław, Cracow, Poznań and Warsaw. However, important political, social and cultural meetings have been taking place all over Poland.

The presidency is not solely a political event to be handled by government administration. It is also a vast social and cultural project. The cultural programme of the Polish presidency is one of the largest initiatives launched to promote the country since 1989. From July to December 2011 thousands of events will be held: public concerts, exhibitions, theatre performances and educational activities.

In ten capital cities, including ones outside the borders of the European Union - Berlin, Brussels, Kiev, London, Madrid, Minsk, Moscow, Paris, Beijing and Tokyo - nearly 400 events will take place, coordinated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute together with Polish Cultural Institutes. In addition to this, Polish diplomatic posts from Lisbon to St. Petersburg and from Hong Kong to Mexico City will host numerous conferences, concerts, exhibitions and meetings designed to promote Poland, its history and its culture.

v The cultural programme within Poland, comprising altogether over 1,000 artistic projects, will be implemented together with 170 partner organisations in eight cities: Białystok, Katowice, Cracow, Lublin, Poznań, Sopot, Warsaw and Wrocław. The whole programme will be coordinated by the National Audiovisual Institute. Moreover, many bottom-up community initiatives that have been cropping up throughout the country will be launched under the patronage of Poland`s presidency.

One of the projects to commemorate Poland`s presidency of the Council of European Union is the issuance, by the National Bank of Poland, of a series of occasional coins.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs