(Source: European Commission)
The Commission adopted today its Partnership Agreement with Poland, laying down the country’s Cohesion Policy investment strategy worth €76.5 billion for the period 2021-2027. Cohesion Policy funds will promote economic, social and territorial cohesion in the Polish regions and help implementing key EU priorities such as the green and digital transition. The funds will also support the country’s competitive, innovative and sustainable growth, improve social inclusion and develop skills of people having difficulties integrating into the labour market.
Reducing energy dependence and protecting the environment
The Cohesion Policy funds will support the country’s green transition. €17.9 billion will be invested in renewable energy sources and circular economy, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The funds will also support with €20 billion the decarbonisation of the transport sector, invest in rail, clean public transport and zero-emissions fuels and develop the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) networks.
The Just Transition Fund will provide €3.85 billion to the five regions most negatively affected by the transition to a climate neutral economy (Silesia, Greater Poland, Lower Silesia, Łódzkie and Lesser Poland voivodeships). The funds will support restructuring and innovative approaches of enterprises transition to a low-carbon economy. They will also support employment in affected companies and increase the quality of formal and non-formal education to increase labour force skills.
Digital transformation of the economy and society
The Partnership Agreement will support the research and innovation capacities of businesses and institutions and the development of digital solutions by businesses and the public sector. It will also help completing broadband infrastructures.
Building socially inclusive and resilient communities
The European Social Fund Plus will provide €12.9 billion in total, which will support employment and social measures, with a particular focus on the participation of women in the labour market and the provision of childcare services. The fund will also support the integration in the labour market of people with disabilities and with a migrant background. The funding will also contribute to improve peoples’ skills, including digital skills.
Of the overall amount, €3 billion will promote social inclusion by improving the quality of and access to social assistance and healthcare services. An important objective is to support long-term care services for older people and people with disabilities, primary health care and mental health services. These funds will also support the integration of third-country nationals and Roma.
Finally, around €62 million will support capacity building of social partners and civil society organisations.
More than €3.5 billion will be invested to better involve local authorities in the implementation of Cohesion Policy. This will be done via a bottom-up approach and partnerships between local authorities and other stakeholders in the framework of integrated territorial tools, such as the Community-Led Local Development and the Integrated Territorial Investments.
Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sector
Around €512 million from the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund will support the fishing and aquaculture sectors by facilitating its ecological transition. The Fund will also support the marine environment and the protection of biodiversity as well as the restructuring of the fleet to match the available fishing opportunities and improve the sectors’ resilience.
Members of the College said:
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “Poland continues to be the largest beneficiary of EU funds, and this is a reflection of the appetite of the country to grow and transform itself into a more modern, more green and more digital economy. It is also commensurate with the challenges that Poland faces today and in the near future. The Partnership Agreement is a new opening with a long-term perspective to foster the development of Polish regions. We support Poland’s path towards decarbonisation and digitalisation.”
Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, underlined: “I welcome that Poland plans to use European funds to invest in crucial social services and to help people to improve their skills and find jobs. By boosting childcare and long term care services, women’s participation in the labour market can increase, bringing a positive impact on the economy and society. Dedicating funds towards social protection measures and healthcare is paramount. Poland will also use the ESF+ to help increase civil society organisations’ and social partners’ capacities, which the Commission believes is essential to a healthy social market economy.”
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “Europe’s blue economy plays a crucial role in supporting coastal communities and in decarbonising our economy. This Partnership Agreement will create favourable conditions for the harmonious deployment of maritime and coastal activities, by supporting a future-proof and resilient transition of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, the protection of the marine environment and biodiversity. It will contribute to the international governance of the oceans as well as the development of a sustainable blue economy in Poland.”
The Partnership Agreement with Poland paves the way for the investments from the Cohesion Policy funds on the ground. It covers 8 national programmes, 16 regional programmes, 8 cross-border cooperation programmes and 4 interregional cooperation programmes.
The agreement also includes the eligibility and implementation of the Just Transition Fund and related just transition plans in five Polish regions most negatively impacted by the climate transition.
Each Member State prepares a Partnership Agreement in cooperation with the Commission. This is a strategic document for programming investments from the Cohesion Policy funds and the EMFAF during the Multiannual Financial Framework.
It focuses on EU priorities, laying down the strategy and investment priorities identified by the Member State. It also presents a list of national and regional programmes for implementation on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each programme. Poland is the eleventh Partnership Agreement adopted for the 2021-2027 funding period, following those of Greece, Germany, Lithuania, Austria, Finland, Czechia , Denmark, France, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Under the 2021-2027 Common Provisions Regulation, Member States must fulfil so-called horizontal and thematic enabling conditions in the implementation of Cohesion policy programmes. One of the enabling conditions requires compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. When preparing their programmes, the Member States have to assess whether the enabling conditions are fulfilled. If the Commission does not agree with this assessment, it cannot reimburse expenditure related to the parts of the programme concerned, until the conditions are fulfilled. Member States must ensure that these conditions remain fulfilled during the whole programming period.