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Structural Funds in Poland for 2014-2020

In late May, the European Commission approved the partnership agreement of Poland on the use of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for 2014-2020. It is therefore one of the first countries to validate this document.

The partnership agreement defines the strategies to be implemented in Member States and regions of the Union for the optimal use of ESI grants. Within this document, each Member State decides priorities and investment objectives for the next seven years contributing to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, namely sustainable, inclusive and smart growth.

European Structural and Investment Funds include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The first three funds are used to finance the cohesion policy. With an overall budget of € 77.6 billion, Poland has the biggest national allocation. The breakdown is as follows:
– € 51.2 billion for less developed regions,
– € 2.2 billion for the more developed regions (Mazowieckie is the only eligible area in Poland),
– € 23.2 billion through the Cohesion Fund,
– € 700.5 million for the European Territorial Cooperation,
– € 252.4 million for the Youth Employment Initiative.
Within this, the ESF will be a minimum of € 12.8 billion.

In addition to these amounts € 8.6 billion will be used for rural development. The amount allocated to Poland under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will be defined and announced this summer.

In 2007-2013, Poland benefited of 67.3 billion euro for ERDF and ESF. Thanks to this amount, over 43,000 jobs were created, 6.7 million people were training, more than 5 800 km of roads were built, 600 projects in research and development were funded or 800,000 people were covered by broadband access. For example, European Structural and Investment Funds were mobilized to co-finance the creation of a scientific research center equipped with high-quality biotechnology, to create a system for managing urban transport or for vocational training.

Despite these results, the Polish investment priorities for 2014-2020 remain largely the same.
The emphasis is indeed placed on:
– modernization of the network infrastructure in transport, energy sector, environment, telecommunications. For example, urban and railways infrastructure must enable to connect the Polish cities together,
– protection of the environment and energy (renewable energy) to environment-friendly and resource-efficient economy,
– increasing labour market participation through improved employment, social inclusion and education policies,
– and the creation of an innovation-friendly business environment and support for enterprises.

The latter is the main priority for the 2014-2020 Partnership Agreement. The aim is to shift from imitation-based to an innovation-based development through a wider offer of repayable financial instruments (loans, guarantees) that will support projects implemented by small and medium enterprises.

Another novelty of the 2014-2020 programming is given to local governments. Indeed, they will be responsible for implementing approximately 40% of all funds, against 25% for 2007-2013.

A total of 24 operational programmes will be implemented in Poland, whereof sixteen are regional and combine the ERDF and the ESF. Among the six national programmes, one will be financed by the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund, three by the ERDF, one by the Cohesion Fund, and one will receive funding from the ESF. Rural and maritime areas will be supported from EAFRD and EMFF (one operational programme for each fund).


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