EC: draft budget means double average funding per Polish citizen

According EC calculations, cohesion policy funding in the period 2021-2027 will come to EUR 239 per Polish citizen per year. Photo: Shutterstock/Photo Veterok

According to European Commission calculations, the 2021-2027 draft budget means there will statistically be EUR 239 per Polish citizen per year, in comparison to EUR 34 per citizen in France, and EUR 12 per citizen in the Netherlands.

On Monday, the European Commission presented its calculations regarding cohesion policy funding following the proposed draft budget for 2021-2027. Poland is to receive a total of EUR 64.4 bln as a part of the regional development fund, and the European Commission has converted the data to show how much, statistically speaking, will be allocated per citizen.

According to the data, cohesion policy funding will come to EUR 239 per Polish citizen per year. This puts Poland in 10th position in the European Union, however, it is still more than twice the average of EUR 106 per citizen.

The result means a 24 percent cut in comparison to the current budget. Other member states facing similar reductions are Malta (down 28 percent), the Czech Republic (down 25 percent), Hungary (down 22 percent) and Germany (down 20 percent).

At the top of the list of recipients is Portugal, whose citizens will each statistically receive EUR 292, a cut of five percent. The largest increase in cohesion funding will be in Romania, which will get EUR 196 per citizen, 17 percent more than in the current budget framework.

At the other end of the scale, the countries which will receive the smallest amount per citizen are Germany (EUR 27), Austria (EUR 21), Luxembourg (EUR 16), Denmark (EUR 14) and the Netherlands (EUR 12).

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In an interview for the Gazeta Polska Codziennie daily, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the EU draft budget “deeply dissatisfying and unacceptable.”

“The European Commission thinks that it can set the interests of Central and Eastern Europe – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland -- against those of Southern Europe,” the Prime Minister said.

Poland has been at loggerheads with the European Commission ever since this latter announced the intention to connect the allocation of funding to the rule of law, an issue which has been the cause for much tension between Poland and the European Parliament in recent months.

The proposed allocations of cohesion policy funding look set to redraw the geography of EU funding as Brussels plans to shift tens of billions of euros away from central and eastern Europe, diverting money from countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, to those hit hard by financial crisis, such as Spain and Greece.

More than philanthropy

The move to shift money away from eastern Europe has been criticized by Germany’s media. In an analysis of the draft budget, the weekly Spiegel newspaper warned that Berlin is risking its lucrative trade and “shooting itself in the foot” by supporting the reduced funding for their eastern neighbors.

“Up to 70 percent of every Euro that Berlin sends to Brussels is returned to German industries in the shape of new international orders,” the newspaper says, quoting an EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources. The analysis goes on to say that a recent study by the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research found that German incomes have risen by nearly 120 billion euros since 2014 due to the existence of the European single market, making Germany the by far biggest beneficiary of internal EU trade.

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Cohesion policy funding as it stands

Tadeusz Truskolaski, the mayor of Białystok in eastern Poland, claims that cohesion funding allowed his city to undergo an “absolute revolution”. In the period 2007-2013, cohesion funding invested EUR 4 bln in Białystok. In comparison, prior to Poland’s joining the EU in 2004, the amount invested in the city was 80 percent smaller – only EUR 11.6 mln per year.

Speaking with the Polish Press Agency, Mr Truskolaski called cohesion funding one of the “pillars of the European Union.”

“Until Poland, and more specifically the regions of eastern Poland, get closer to the EU average (of GDP - ed.), we will continue to need this funding,” he said. Many regions in eastern Poland are currently at around 50 percent of the EU average GDP.

If the draft budget is accepted as it currently stands, cohesion policy funding will only be 29 percent of the whole 2021-2027 budget. In the current financial framework, one-third of the budget is dedicated to regional development.