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The Warsaw Voice » Business » August 29, 2013
Business & Economy
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Transport and Innovation: Spending Priorities
August 29, 2013   
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Poland will prioritize sustainable transport and innovation when spending cash from Brussels under the EU’s budget for 2014-2020.

Poland is the biggest beneficiary of the EU’s cohesion policy. Around 72.9 billion of the 325 billion euros set aside in the EU’s 2014-2020 budget for the policy has been allocated to Poland. “We must spare no effort in using the funding as effectively as possible because it is the last allocation on such a scale for our country,” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, minister of regional development, said. “European funding is to become a driver of change while projects carried out with the money are to produce real economic benefits.”

Too affluent
The Ministry of Regional development forecasts that in 2020 Poland will be too affluent to be granted the level of funding it has been allocated for 2014-2020. That’s why it’s important to spend the billions flowing in from Brussels over the next seven years on projects which enhance the country’s competitiveness, politicians say. “We want Poland to have a developed economy in 2020 and manufacture products able to compete on European and global markets,” Bieńkowska said. “Nothing stands in the way of us having a ‘Polish Nokia’ by 2020, that is businesses that are a force to be reckoned with internationally.” Most of the money from the new EU budget is to go on projects designed to improve competitiveness, support innovation and make Polish exports more attractive.

All about innovation
As part of the Smart Growth program and regional programs, the ministry plans to increase the research and development potential of Polish businesses and encourage them to cooperate with the science sector. Today, innovation in Polish businesses is limited because most of them do not have research and development departments. Under the Smart Growth program, projects are to be carried out “from the drawing board to the marketplace,” which means supporting the whole process of creating innovation—financing scientific research, then building a prototype and launching a finished product on the market.

The 72.9 billion euros which Poland is to receive for cohesion policy in 2014-2020 is to be divided into six national and 16 regional programs—one for each province, with 24.2 billion euros set aside for the Infrastructure and Environment program, around 7.6 billion euros for the Smart Growth program (which will replace the Innovative Economy program), around 3.2 billion euros for the Knowledge, Education and Development program (which will succeed the Human Capital program), around 1.9 billion euros for the Digital Poland program, 2 billion euros for the Eastern Poland program, and around 600 million euros for the Technical Support program. Around 28.1 billion euros will go on regional programs. The Silesia and Małopolska provinces will get the most, around 3 billion and 2.5 billion euros respectively.

Most of the programs will be continuations of those which are now in place. The only new program is Digital Poland, with money to be spent on information and communication technology. When it comes to the division of funding among individual sectors, the biggest chunk—21 billion euros—will be spent on sustainable transport.

Innovation is in second place, with the ministry of regional development planning to set aside 9.7 billion euros will go on for it. Then comes the low-carbon economy program, with 6.8 billion euros in funding, followed by environmental protection, with 5.5 billion euros. And 4.4 billion euros has been designated for small and medium-sized businesses, with most of the money to be distributed at regional level rather than by central institutions, as is the case now. Most of the money set aside for tackling social exclusion and poverty—5.2 billion euros—as well as professional training for workers and the unemployed—4.4 billion euros—will be divided at regional level.

Bieńkowska said Poland could start using the EU funds for 2014-2020 in the final quarter of 2014.
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