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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » December 16, 2009
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EU cash injection
December 16, 2009   
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European Union funds play an important role in stimulating the Polish economy. Of all 27 member states, Poland is the largest beneficiary of the EU's regional policy because it receives around 20 percent of the EU's total financial support under the cohesion policy. In 2007-2013, over 67 billion euros may be transferred to Poland under this policy. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said that, by putting EU funds to good use, Poland could become Europe's largest construction site, despite the recession.

According to the European Commission, Poland did a good job in using the regional funds that were assigned to it in the EU budget for 2000-2006.

The latest data from the Ministry of Regional Development shows that Poland has managed to use up 101.3 percent of funds for 2004-2006. Exceeding 100 percent is linked to euro exchange rate fluctuations and a mechanism called over-contracting under which contracts are signed for a sum slightly above the allocated total.

EU funds have been plowed into thousands of investment projects that are changing Poland, with effects visible in almost every community. EU funds contributed to the construction or modernization of 5,000 km of roads, 636 km of railroads and over 10,000 km of sewage systems. Support was provided to over 13,000 micro-businesses, and 610,000 students took advantage of EU scholarships. Money also made its way to over 300 research laboratories, industrial parks and enterprise incubators. EU funding helped improve the standard of education (over 200,000 computer workstations in schools) and provide broader access to information and communication technology.

As for the EU's budget plans for 2007-2013, not counting agricultural funds and those for fisheries, the amount reserved for Poland is the highest of all 27 EU member states, at 67.3 billion euros. Of this, 22 billion euros is from the Cohesion Fund, 9.7 billion from the Social Fund, 34 billion from the European Regional Development Fund and over 1 billion euros is a reserve.

At present Poland is eighth in the EU in terms of using up EU funds. This position could improve, because significant progress has been made in recent weeks. According to the Ministry of Regional Development, by Oct. 11, almost 20 percent of the funds allocated for 2007-2013 had been distributed. The number of signed contracts exceeded 20,000 and these were worth zl.76.2 billion, of which the EU contribution is zl.54.7 billion. The ministry says that beneficiaries of European funds have submitted 88,400 correctly filled-out applications for total supplementary funding of zl.204.1 billion. The value of spending recognized as eligible costs in applications for funds is zl.14.2 billion, of which zl.11.1 billion will come from the EU.
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