Specialists in the field of European Union subsidies note that Poland has a long delay in using EU funds from the financial perspective for 2021-2027. Although this program has been in force for over two and a half years, competitions for receiving funding for regional initiatives have only just started. The situation is described in a report prepared by the company.
Funds from EU funds. Unprecedented delays in organizing grant competitions
According to data provided by Grant Thornton, at the end of August, 380 competitions were announced at the level of 16 regional programs covering individual voivodeships. The total amount that will be distributed within them is EUR 5.3 billion. It is only 15 percent. of the EUR 34.1 billion that can be used. Analysts point out that this is a low result compared to the time that has already passed. 32 of the 84 months in the current financial perspective have already passed, i.e. more than one third of the total. “Taking into account the fact that there are just over four years left until the end of the perspective, there may be concerns whether Polish regions will be able to fully use all available funds,” we read in the report.
“This is already the third full perspective of the implementation of EU funds, so theoretically it should take advantage of previous experiences and start much earlier than them. However, in the previous perspectives, the first competitions were announced much earlier than now, about a year – one and a half from the start of the perspective. Now it is the delay is almost two and a half years,” summarizes the report’s results by Maria Murawska, senior manager of European consulting at Grant Thornton. At the same time, it emphasizes that the situation involves the risk of not being able to use all the funds provided for in the financial perspective.
Delaying the start of acquisition work carries another risk. It is the likelihood of having to run many competitions in parallel to make up for lost time. “This situation may cause chaos in which beneficiaries who want to use the available funds will not have sufficient resources (including human, financial, legal and technical) to reliably prepare application documentation” – explains Murawska. At the same time, it warns that the institutions themselves may have problems with their timely evaluation due to the sudden inflow of a large number of applications.
The European Commission points out problems with the rule of law. “We may lose some money from the EU budget”
Experts also warn that receiving funds from the current financial perspective still depends on meeting established horizontal rules. Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms of the EU, informed journalists that in the case of Poland she saw, among other things, a problem with the application of the rule of law.
– We may lose some money from the new EU budget, because the money for money principle still applies. Meanwhile, the ruling party is in no hurry to meet the basic requirements and even announces that it will “tighten the screws” in the justice system after the elections, warned Łukasz Bernatowicz, vice-president of the Business Center Club, in a conversation with “Rzeczpospolita” journalists.
It is also the raised concerns regarding the rule of law that lead to the continued suspension of disbursement of funds from the National Reconstruction Fund. Although the plan, which is to consist of EUR 22 billion in non-repayable subsidies and over EUR 11 billion in cheap loans, was approved in June 2022, these funds have not yet reached Poland. The European Commission points out that the condition for their payment is the fulfillment of the conditions regarding the independence of the judiciary. These include, among others, the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber and the return to adjudicating for judges who were removed by it, as well as the reform of the disciplinary system in the judiciary.
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