Why we need to stay in Europe

16 June 2016
Miro Walker
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miroWhen I was a child, I never dreamed of the kind of freedom of movement that I cherish so much today in Europe.  As the son of a Polish mother and British father, I have vivid memories of queuing for hours at Checkpoint Charlie, just to visit relatives or return to the UK.  The realities of border control then were frightening. It’s easy to forget how wonderful and precious our freedom of movement through Europe really is.

I have lived in the UK for most of my life but when Poland joined the EU in 2004, it opened the door to a new business opportunity and with just £5,000 and the seed of an idea, anything seemed possible.  In 2005, my business partner, Stu, and I founded Cognifide in a garage in suburban Poznan. Three years later, as the company started to take off, I moved out to live there with my family.


Why Poznan?  Boasting three of the finest technology universities in Europe, Poznan was (and still is) brimming with computer scientists and engineering talent.  We set up a development centre that today employs over 180 staff, all with a passion for technology, innovation and making the impossible possible.


We are now headquartered in London and part of the WPP worldwide network.  We work for global giants such as Ford, Unilever, HSBC and GSK - all from our humble start in a garage in Poznan.


I believe that our success is largely down to the rich pool of talent that we can access as a member of the EU.  In our London headquarters you will find Germans, French, Italians, Polish, Danish, Spanish and Portuguese amongst a wider network of people from India, Afghanistan, Australia, Iran, South Africa, the USA, and the list goes on.  We are a rich melting pot of cultures, faiths and beliefs and we are all stronger for engaging with each other.   We benefit from shared values and we learn from our differences.


We enjoy a hugely strong connection with our colleagues in Poznan.  Just this weekend we held our annual Spring Party and flew all our London staff and their families to join Polish colleagues for two days of celebrating the company that we have become.  And most of our European staff can travel to Poznan carrying only their identity cards, a far cry from Cognifide’s early days when there wasn’t even a direct flight!


So for me, the thought of retreating from this rich, culturally diverse, democratic Union that gives us the freedom of movement that I never thought would exist, seems nothing less than crazy.  It will be devastating for Cognifide and the thousands of companies like us.  It will be devastating for the technology industry that relies on freedom of movement to recruit the best talent and maintain the level of momentum and innovation that we rely on.  We are lucky to be headquartered in London, but we are, without doubt a proud, truly European company and very much wish to remain so.