On 26 February, together with the Polish Minister for Infrastructure and Development Maria Wasiak and in the presence of Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, I had the pleasure to officially launch the Polish Operational Programmes for Cohesion Policy.
I am impressed how Cohesion Policy has contributed to the overall public investments in Poland. Since the country’s accession to the European Union, almost 11 years ago, the funds have played a key role to ensure growth in the country.
In 2014-2020, Poland will remain the largest beneficiairy of Cohesion Policy in the European Union. More than EUR 77.3 billion will be allocated under the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Social Fund.
Thanks to an excellent cooperation between the Polish authorities and my services, we succesfully managed to adopt all 22 Operational Programmes by mid February.
From supporting SME growth, strengthening innovation, increasing connectivity within cities and enabling green energy, those strategic investment programmes will deliver concrete benefits for the people living and working in the regions.
Yet, with wealth comes responsibility. It might be the last time the country gets such a huge amount of EU funding. The new period also poses bigger challenges in terms of implementation, as more than 55% of the resources will now be managed by the regions. This offers many opportunities to the regions who know best their strengths and needs. However, it also means that regions will have a greater responsibility in ensuring that the money is wisely invested.
The launch event was held in the ERDF co-funded Copernicus Science Centre. During the official ceremony, I was given the opportunity to hand out the adopted Operational Programmes to the Marshalls of the 16 Polish regions. I also had a separate meeting with them to discuss the challenges ahead.
The focus is now on results. I am confident that Poland will use the money well to further develop as a knowledge-based and innovative economy, which is capable to create high quality and sustainable jobs for its citizens. I am convinced that the success of the previous period will continue in 2014-2020.
I look forward to further cooperating with the Marshalls, and I truly hope to get the chance to visit all Polish regions by the end of my mandate. I left convinced that the Polish regions are on the right track and I wish them every success in implementing the programmes on the ground.