Distinctions for the Vice President of the European Commission
Today, Lech Kaczyński decorated Günter Verheugen, Vice President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, with the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his achievements, including extraordinary service with regard to the expansion of the European Union.
Verheugen, who was the European Commissioner for Enlargement in the period of 1999-2004, negotiated the accession of Poland into the European Union; these negotiations resulted in Poland joining the Union on 1st May 2004.
The President thanked Günter Verheugen for the openness with which he treated Poland in the final stage of its struggle to join the European Union.
He emphasized that the negotiations regarding accession were not easy for Poland. One of the reasons underlying this was the fact that ideas for expanding the Union varied and, among them, there was the idea of a so-called small enlargement. Its assumption was that Poland would not be among the first group of Central and Eastern European states joining the European Union in May 2004.