Energy, Euro, climate, and EU funds

Energy

Among the top­ics that enjoyed live­ly inter­est of both politi­cians and pub­lic opin­ion in Poland, was the ques­tion of ener­gy includ­ing both ener­gy sources import­ed from Rus­sia, as well as the prob­lem of cli­mat­ic change occur­ring due to ener­gy pro­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies linked with emis­sions of green­house gas­es.

The first prob­lem is treat­ed by pub­lic opin­ion not as a pure­ly busi­ness issue, but rather as the one that is being linked with Russia’s pol­i­cy, tend­ing to treat ener­gy sources as instru­ments of for­eign pol­i­cy. There­fore, Poland is deeply inter­est­ed in both the EU mem­ber states sol­i­dar­i­ty on the ener­gy ques­tion and diver­si­fi­ca­tion of sup­ply sources in order to dimin­ish depen­dence on Rus­sia. Poland is also against build­ing the Baltic and Black Sea under­wa­ter gas pipes and sup­ports at the same time the Nabuc­co and Jamal two pipes, run­ning via Belarus and Poland. There­fore, “Gazprom” maneu­vers aim­ing at the estab­lish­ment of a gas car­tel fol­low­ing OPEC or the attempts at con­trol­ling gas deposits out­side Russ­ian bor­ders are very care­ful­ly observed in Poland.[1] On the oth­er hand, all sig­nals and deci­sions on the EU side reflect­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of ener­gy sol­i­dar­i­ty are being wel­comed with great satisfaction.[2]

Poland’s ener­gy indus­try is most­ly based on hard coal. There­fore, the gov­ern­ment and Pol­ish pub­lic opin­ion are being high­ly involved in the debates over the Ener­gy and Cli­mate Change Pack­age, whose adop­tion in the orig­i­nal form would mean seri­ous trou­bles for the Pol­ish econ­o­my and the dras­tic price rise of ener­gy for households.[3] At the same time, one should note that Poles are not against envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies aimed at cli­mate preser­va­tion: accord­ing to the poll of 14 Novem­ber 2008, 71 per­cent of the respon­dents are con­vinced that we should com­bat cli­mat­ic changes even if it is dis­ad­van­ta­geous for eco­nom­ic growth. How­ev­er, only 1–5 of the respon­dents would accept the ener­gy price rise high­er than 20 percent,[4] while the adop­tion of the orig­i­nal ver­sion of the pack­age would mean the increase in ener­gy prices even by 100 per­cent.

Introduction of the Euro in Poland

First, gov­ern­ment announce­ments came dur­ing the Eco­nom­ic Forum in Kryn­i­ca in Sep­tem­ber 2008 and were lat­er repeat­ed in the dec­la­ra­tion by Prime Min­is­ter Don­ald Tusk, who announced that the gov­ern­ment will see to fin­ish the prepara­to­ry works until mid 2011[5] with adop­tion of appro­pri­ate road map mea­sures. Lat­er on, the deci­sion was mod­i­fied yet the Finance Min­is­ter, Jacek Ros­tows­ki, declared its deter­mi­na­tion to intro­duce the Euro in Poland in 2012.[6] On 30 Decem­ber 2008 the gov­ern­ment adopt­ed the Con­ver­gence Pro­gramme. The gov­ern­ment adopt­ed on 28 Octo­ber 2008 a 2008 Update, which con­tains a macro­eco­nom­ic and fis­cal prog­no­sis with the view of ful­fill­ing nom­i­nal con­ver­gence cri­te­ria to exchange Pol­ish Zlo­ty with the Euro on 1 Jan­u­ary 2012, what is in accor­dance with the Timetable of inte­gra­tion with the Eurozone.[7]

The gov­ern­ment dec­la­ra­tion of Sep­tem­ber 2008 (con­sult­ed with the Mon­e­tary Pol­i­cy Coun­cil and the Head of the Nation­al Bank of Poland[8]) and lat­er announce­ments regard­ing intro­duc­ing the Euro in Poland have raised a vivid debate over the pro­pos­al among the polit­i­cal par­ties in Poland accom­pa­nied by a num­ber of media com­ments and pub­lic opin­ion polls.

Experts’ views

In view of the experts, 2011 is an extreme­ly short time for the adop­tion of the Euro; how­ev­er, this is good news for Poland, espe­cial­ly after Poland has lost the oppor­tu­ni­ty to adopt the Euro in 2009. With this fast track way to the Euro, Poland still seems to be capa­ble of ful­fill­ing the eco­nom­ic cri­te­ria on time.[9] Dar­iusz Filar, a mem­ber of the Mon­e­tary Pol­i­cy Coun­cil, not­ed that there is a chance of Poland join­ing the Euro­zone in 2011 on the con­di­tion that infla­tion is kept below the ref­er­ence threshold.[10]

Accord­ing to Bohdan Wyżnikiewicz, from the “Insti­tute for Mar­ket Eco­nom­ics”, the dec­la­ra­tion by the Prime Min­is­ter on Poland’s entry into the Euro­zone is the best pos­si­ble mes­sage for busi­ness­es in Poland. Accord­ing to the expert, the deci­sion is right and will help the Pol­ish econ­o­my; how­ev­er, the main tasks are 1) to con­vince the soci­ety that intro­duc­ing the Euro does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean a rise of prices and 2) con­trol­ling the process so that change of cur­ren­cy will not cause price rise.[11]

Business views

Accord­ing to the “Pol­ish Con­fed­er­a­tion of Pri­vate Employ­ers Lewiatan”, the intro­duc­tion of the Euro may strong­ly sup­port eco­nom­ic growth in Poland or, it may not bring any sig­nif­i­cant effect. The real­iza­tion of the first sce­nario requires – accord­ing to the Con­fed­er­a­tion – fast and sig­nif­i­cant reforms to take place, the ones that will make Poland’s econ­o­my more flex­i­ble, more respon­sive to changes in demand and sup­ply in the lack of mon­e­tary pol­i­cy and exchange rate mech­a­nisms. The con­fed­er­a­tion has also for­mu­lat­ed five con­di­tions for the suc­cess­ful and secure adop­tion of the Euro: 1) low­er­ing fis­cal bur­den to increase sav­ings and pri­vate invest­ments; 2) increase in voca­tion­al activ­i­ties, espe­cial­ly among those over 50 to increase work sup­ply and lim­it bud­getary spend­ing; 3) to increase spend­ing on infra­struc­tures, edu­ca­tion, research and devel­op­ment with accom­pa­ny­ing decrease in pub­lic spend­ing in GDP; 4) speed­ing up the pri­va­ti­za­tion process to bet­ter use the exist­ing resources and decrease the bor­row­ing needs of the state; 5) lib­er­al­iza­tion of the econ­o­my and the abo­li­tion of obsta­cles in entre­pre­neur­ship devel­op­ment by sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of eco­nom­ic and fis­cal laws, admin­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures as well as the improve­ment of func­tion­ing of the eco­nom­ic admin­is­tra­tion and courts.[12]

Accord­ing to the dec­la­ra­tion signed by the Vice-Pres­i­dent of the “Busi­ness Cen­tre Club”, the Prime Minister’s announce­ment of the government’s plans regard­ing the adop­tion of the Euro were both sur­pris­ing and excel­lent deci­sions, espe­cial­ly tak­ing into account the busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives who had for a long time, request­ed fast inte­gra­tion with­in the Euro­zone. Accord­ing to the same doc­u­ment, Poland has lost last three years, when Poland was able to ful­fill the cri­te­ria enabling her to take deci­sion on adop­tion of the Euro. The dec­la­ra­tion by the Prime Min­is­ter has been wel­comed with sat­is­fac­tion and the author expressed his hope that the dec­la­ra­tion will also real­ly mean strong determination.[13]

Political parties views

The series of con­sul­ta­tions with the major polit­i­cal forces in Poland, includ­ing the Prime Minister’s talks with the heads of the par­lia­men­tary clubs of major par­ties rep­re­sent­ed in Sejm, as well as numer­ous media inter­views, have shown that the main divi­sion line is that between the Law and Jus­tice (PiS) Par­ty and the rest of the par­lia­men­tary par­ties (both gov­ern­men­tal Civ­il Plat­form (PO) and the Pol­ish Peas­ants’ Par­ty (PSL) as well as the oppo­si­tion force left par­lia­men­tary club). A posi­tion sim­i­lar to that of PiS has also been demon­strat­ed by the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic and its Chan­cellery.

The main ques­tions con­cerned: the very idea of intro­duc­ing the com­mon Euro­pean cur­ren­cy, the date of intro­duc­ing the Euro and the nec­es­sary changes in Poland’s con­sti­tu­tion­al law as well as the ques­tion of a ref­er­en­dum.

The head of the Law and Jus­tice Par­ty (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczyn­s­ki, declared already on 19 Sep­tem­ber 2008 that the Euro in Poland “will ruin the pen­sion­ers”, while – in his view — the very pro­pos­al to intro­duce the Euro by the gov­ern­ing Civic Plat­form marks the begin­ning of the Civic Platform’s Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­toral cam­paign. Jaroslaw Kaczyn­s­ki stressed that intro­duc­ing the Euro in Poland in 2011 would be harm­ful for the cit­i­zens and that Poland could enter the Euro­zone in 2020 or 2025 when the gap between Poland and rich­er EU mem­bers will be smaller.[14] On 8 Decem­ber 2008, Jaroslaw Kaczyn­s­ki declared that Poland should not intro­duce the Euro in the light of the cur­rent eco­nom­ic crisis;[15] while after a series of talks with the Prime Min­is­ter, he declared that the Law and Jus­tice par­ty will sup­port the nec­es­sary con­sti­tu­tion­al changes on con­di­tion that a Euro ref­er­en­dum is held togeth­er with the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in June 2009.[16]

The talks on the intro­duc­tion of the Euro in Poland proved that the Civic Plat­form, the Pol­ish Peas­ants’ Par­ty (gov­ern­ing coali­tion), and the Left rep­re­sen­ta­tives sup­port the fastest intro­duc­tion of the Euro as pos­si­ble, while the Law and Jus­tice par­ty upheld the idea of a nation-wide referendum.[17] Ear­li­er, the Civic Plat­form con­sid­ered the pos­si­bil­i­ty of hold­ing a ref­er­en­dum togeth­er with the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions on con­di­tion that the 50 per­cent turnout thresh­old for valid­i­ty is eliminated,[18] also in the light of the Law and Jus­tice party’s pro­pos­al to sup­port the con­sti­tu­tion­al changes on con­di­tion that a ref­er­en­dum is held.[19] Such a stance by Law and Jus­tice was assessed by the Civic Plat­form, the Pol­ish Peas­ants’ Party,[20] and the left par­lia­men­tary club[21] as using the Euro for the party’s own polit­i­cal games and inter­ests.

The very issue of what ques­tions to ask in the ref­er­en­dum was also the sub­ject of dis­cus­sion among major polit­i­cal forces, main­ly between the Prime Min­is­ter and the head of the Law and Jus­tice par­ty. After suc­ces­sive rounds of talks, the Prime Min­is­ter declared that the ref­er­en­dum, on the intro­duc­tion of the Euro, will not be held and the con­sti­tu­tion will be changed when such a pos­si­bil­i­ty occurs in the par­lia­ment (new elec­tions to be held in 2011), while the gov­ern­ment will any­way pro­ceed with imple­men­ta­tion of the road map.[22]

Pres­i­dent Lech Kaczyn­s­ki, while com­ment­ing on the government’s pro­pos­al already on 30 Sep­tem­ber 2008, declared that in his view, the year 2011 is com­plete­ly unfea­si­ble and 2012 is also pre­ma­ture as the date of entry into the Euro­zone. The Pres­i­dent stressed as well that the deci­sion must nec­es­sar­i­ly be sub­ject to nation-wide ref­er­en­dum.

Public opinion views

As regards to the pub­lic opin­ion posi­tion, vis-à-vis the intro­duc­tion of the com­mon cur­ren­cy, the poll con­duct­ed by “TNS OBOP” for “Dzi­en­nik” dai­ly sug­gests that 52 per­cent answered “Yes” to the ques­tion “should Poland in your view intro­duce the Euro?” with 37 per­cent of “No” answers. Addi­tion­al­ly 55 per­cent of the respon­dents would like to see the Euro in their pock­ets in 2011 (with 32 per­cent votes against).[23]

In the poll con­duct­ed in Novem­ber 2008 by “Pub­lic Opin­ion Research Cen­ter” (CBOS), the ques­tion was asked “would you agree to replace Pol­ish Zlo­ty with the com­mon Euro­pean cur­ren­cy the Euro?” 19 per­cent of the respon­dents answered “def­i­nite­ly Yes”, anoth­er fur­ther 28 per­cent answered “rather Yes”, while the num­ber of “rather not” and “def­i­nite­ly No” answers, was respec­tive­ly 21 per­cent and 24 per­cent, with 8 per­cent unde­cid­ed. Among the sup­port­ers of the Euro’s intro­duc­tion, 63 per­cent want the Euro in 2012, while 29 per­cent of Euro sup­port­ers would like to see it intro­duced at a lat­er stage. As regards to the poten­tial ref­er­en­dum, three-fourths of Poles would like to take part while over half (56 per­cent) declares that in the case that the ref­er­en­dum is held, they will def­i­nite­ly go to the polls.[24]

Poland and the CO2 issue

In the sec­ond half of 2008, cli­mate change and green­house gas emis­sions issues were present in the pub­lic dis­cus­sion. On 1–12 Decem­ber 2008, the 14th Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to Cli­mate Con­ven­tion – COP14 – serv­ing as the 4th Meet­ing of the Par­ties to the Kyoto Pro­to­col (COP14/MOP4), was held in Poz­nan, Poland. The Convention’s out­put achieved so far, as well as that under the Kyoto Pro­to­col, was sum­ma­rized there.

Poland arranged this impor­tant inter­na­tion­al meet­ing in a man­ner lead­ing to the achieve­ment of spe­cif­ic results aimed at stop­ping cli­mate change and at an adap­ta­tion to inevitable changes. The Poz­nan meet­ing seems to be a mile­stone on the way towards a con­sen­sus on the com­mit­ments con­cern­ing green­house gas emis­sions reduc­tion that is to be reached dur­ing the Copen­hagen COP in 2009.

Dur­ing the Poz­nan con­fer­ence, par­tic­u­lar empha­sis was put on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of spe­cif­ic exam­ples of suc­cess­ful tech­nol­o­gy trans­fer and of the actions aimed at adap­ta­tion to cli­mate change, so that these good prac­tices could be dis­sem­i­nat­ed. The con­fer­ence attract­ed about 10,000–12,000 par­tic­i­pants from 190 coun­tries. In con­nec­tion with the con­ven­tion pan­els, the con­fer­ence formed an impor­tant step lead­ing towards spe­cif­ic actions aimed at the pro­tec­tion of Earth’s cli­mate. In his recent address deliv­ered at the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly, Pro­fes­sor Maciej Now­ic­ki, Pol­ish Envi­ron­men­tal Min­is­ter, declared to organ­ise a world exhi­bi­tion in Poz­nan that will present inno­v­a­tive inven­tions and man­age­ment solu­tions serv­ing for the reduc­tion of green­house gas emis­sions, begin­ning from the sim­plest solu­tions through most advanced tech­nolo­gies. “We now have a much clear­er sense of where we need to go in design­ing an out­come which will spell out the com­mit­ments of devel­oped coun­tries, the finan­cial sup­port required and the insti­tu­tions that will deliv­er that sup­port as part of the Copen­hagen out­come,” said UNFCCC Exec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Yvo de Boer.

The Unit­ed Nations Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence in Poz­nań end­ed with a clear com­mit­ment from gov­ern­ments to shift into full nego­ti­at­ing mode next year in order to shape an ambi­tious and effec­tive inter­na­tion­al response to cli­mate change, to be agreed upon in Copen­hagen at the end of 2009. Par­ties agreed that the first draft of a con­crete nego­ti­at­ing text would be avail­able at a UNFCCC gath­er­ing in Bonn in June of 2009.[25]

At the same time but in Gdan­sk, before the Decem­ber EU Sum­mit, the talks between French Pres­i­dent Nicloas Sarkozy and high rep­re­sen­ta­tives of east Euro­pean coun­tries con­cern­ing cli­mate and car­bon diox­ide took place. “Things are mov­ing in a good way. I am con­vinced we will arrive at a pos­i­tive con­clu­sion” said French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy after meet­ing Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter Don­ald Tusk and eight oth­er East Euro­pean lead­ers.

Poland, which relies on high-pol­lut­ing coal for more than 90 per­cent of its elec­tric­i­ty, has threat­ened to veto an EU plan to cut green­house gas emis­sions by 20 per­cent below 1990 lev­els by 2020 unless War­saw wins a fos­sil fuel con­ces­sion. Poland argues it needs until 2020 to curb car­bon emis­sions, for exam­ple by using more effi­cient boil­ers and car­bon-scrub­bing equip­ment, and pos­si­bly build­ing a first new nuclear pow­er plant. Prime Min­is­ter Don­ald Tusk said that Nico­las Sarkozy and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion agreed to extend the peri­od lim­it­ing manda­to­ry pur­chas­es of green­house gas emis­sions per­mits for East­ern Europe coal plants. Tusk also point­ed at the will­ing­ness to reach com­pro­mise at the sum­mit “at the very end, maybe at the very last minute, we may decide this is a solu­tion we can accept” Don­ald Tusk said.[26]

Poor­er East­ern Euro­pean states say that lim­its on car­bon emis­sions will harm their economies at a time of a glob­al finan­cial cri­sis, pre­vent­ing them from catch­ing up with wealthy West­ern Europe.

Pres­i­dent Sarkozy saw rea­sons for opti­mism after meet­ing the lead­ers of Bul­gar­ia, Hun­gary, Czech Repub­lic, Slo­va­kia, Roma­nia, Poland, Esto­nia, Lithua­nia and Latvia. “It is very strong polit­i­cal sig­nal that despite the finan­cial cri­sis, no state want­ed to change the dead­line or the objec­tives of axing green­house gas­es by one fifth, as Pres­i­dent Sarkozy said.[27]

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing in Poland, the EU Sum­mit in Brus­sels brought a final com­pro­mise in the Ener­gy and Cli­mate Change Pack­age. Poland, and oth­er new mem­ber coun­tries, received a long tran­si­tion peri­od in adjust­ing coal pow­er plants. As under­lined by Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter, Don­ald Tusk, “Poland received a great, great chance to mod­ern­ize the ener­gy sec­tor. Chance, which will allow Poland in 2020 to have mod­ern­ized ener­gy sec­tor enough to be able to ful­fill the most dif­fi­cult chal­lenges of the cli­mat­ic package”.[28]

Look­ing at the issue of cli­mate change and green­house gas emis­sions from the point of view of the Pol­ish soci­ety, “TNS OBOP” con­duct­ed a poll among Pol­ish cit­i­zens in Octo­ber 2008.[29] Accord­ing to the research, a sig­nif­i­cant major­i­ty of respon­dents (92 per­cent) agrees that cli­mat­ic changes are a threat that needs to be fought against; 79 per­cent of the researched pop­u­la­tion believes that cli­mate change can have a direct influ­ence on their life. For the researched pop­u­la­tion, resis­tance to cli­mat­ic changes can bring advan­tages such as: clean envi­ron­ment (79 per­cent), high­er life stan­dards (51 per­cent), improve­ment of ener­gy secu­ri­ty (50 per­cent of indi­ca­tions). The most com­mon threat among Pol­ish respon­dents was the increase in ener­gy prices (66 per­cent). How­ev­er, the major­i­ty (69 per­cent) is keen on pay­ing a bit more for clean ener­gy – ener­gy from renew­able resources or “clean tech­nolo­gies” – six out of ten agree to pay up to 10 per­cent more and every fifth respon­dent is ready to pay up to 20 per­cent more for clean ener­gy. Almost the whole researched pop­u­la­tion (92 per­cent) believes that small actions tak­en in every­day life can have a pos­i­tive influ­ence on the decreas­ing of green­house gas­es emis­sion and 99 per­cent declares hav­ing already tak­en at least one of these actions, which can influ­ence pos­i­tive­ly cli­mate change. 75 per­cent declares to take actions like reduc­tion of cen­tral heat­ing while being not at home, rub­bish seg­re­ga­tion, using bio-bags, using eco-safe home equip­ment and reduc­tion of water con­sump­tion.

Public discourse on the EU regional policy and absorption of the European funds

In the sec­ond half of 2008, there was rather doscrete and tech­ni­cal pub­lic dis­course on a big scale on issues relat­ed to the EU region­al pol­i­cy as well as absorp­tion of the Euro­pean funds in Poland. How­ev­er, one can point out to some issues, that were, to some extent, sub­ject to the more vocal pub­lic debate such as: 1) absorp­tion of EU funds con­cern­ing the pro­gram­ming peri­ods 2004–2006 and 2007–2013; 2) chal­lenges for EU region­al pol­i­cy relat­ed to the world finan­cial cri­sis; 3) con­sul­ta­tions of the so-called key projects and oth­er doc­u­ments relat­ed to the imple­men­ta­tion of the EU cohe­sion pol­i­cy in Poland in the years 2007–2013; 4) state of pub­lic debate on the EU cohe­sion pol­i­cy post-2013, that is to say in the pro­gram­ming peri­od 2014–2020 as well as 5) state of the debate on the new con­cept of the Pol­ish region­al pol­i­cy.

As far as the pub­lic debate on the cur­rent state of absorp­tion of EU funds in 2004–2006 and 2007–2013 is con­cerned, in gen­er­al, the dis­course on this issue was reflect­ed in the mass media by the pre­sen­ta­tion of sta­tis­ti­cal data on the cur­rent state and the hith­er­to results of the imple­men­ta­tion of the struc­tur­al pro­grammes, infor­ma­tion on suc­cess­ful EU-fund­ed projects as well as infor­ma­tion on the struc­tur­al pro­grammes which would be avail­able in the years 2007–2013, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on cur­rent com­pe­ti­tions with­in dif­fer­ent programmes.[30] Cer­tain­ly, this infor­ma­tion pos­i­tive­ly influ­enced the increase of aware­ness among the Pol­ish soci­ety about the finan­cial con­tri­bu­tion of the EU to the social and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment of Pol­ish regions.

As far as the pub­lic debate on the cur­rent state of absorp­tion of EU funds in 2004–2006 is con­cerned, in the opin­ion of the present Min­is­ter of Region­al Devel­op­ment, Elż­bi­eta Bieńkows­ka, we are the lead­ers among Euro­pean coun­tries in terms of the absorp­tion of these funds and all these funds will be spent.

It is worth men­tion­ing that in the sec­ond half of the year 2008, a huge vari­ety of sem­i­nars and con­fer­ences devot­ed to the clo­sure of pro­grammes relat­ed to the 2004–2006 finan­cial per­spec­tive took place. They were an excel­lent occa­sion for debates as well as exchange of infor­ma­tion and expe­ri­ence between dif­fer­ent actors engaged in the imple­men­ta­tion of the EU region­al pol­i­cy in Poland. For exam­ple, in Octo­ber 2008 a con­fer­ence devot­ed to the Inte­grat­ed Region­al Oper­a­tional Pro­gramme (IROP) – the biggest EU-fund­ed oper­a­tional pro­gramme car­ried out in Poland in the years 2004–2006 – was orga­nized in War­saw.

Accord­ing to the Prime Min­is­ter, Don­ald Tusk, Poland effec­tive­ly used EU funds avail­able with­in the IROP. In his opin­ion, EU funds have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on life of the so called “ordi­nary” peo­ple as they trig­ger ener­gy and involve­ment of the peo­ple. Accord­ing to the Prime Min­is­ter, effec­tive absorp­tion of EU funds 2007–2013 will be a greater chal­lenge for Poland than the EU funds 2004–2006. In the view of the min­is­ter of region­al devel­op­ment, Elż­bi­eta Bieńkows­ka, IROP as the EU pro­gramme with the high­est dynam­ic of absorp­tion, is the exam­ple of suc­cess­ful spend­ing of EU funds.[31]

In the sec­ond half of the year 2008, there are a num­ber of events that were orga­nized with the aim to increase the aware­ness of the Pol­ish soci­ety about changes which took place thanks to projects co-financed with­in IROP. The exam­ples of these under­tak­ings are the ones orga­nized by the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment: the com­pe­ti­tion con­cern­ing com­mune which was the most active in apply­ing for EU funds with­in IROP as well as pho­to­graph­ic com­pe­ti­tion con­cern­ing the best pho­tographs depict­ing the results of IROP projects, enti­tled “ZPORRe zmi­any w regionach”[32].

As far as the debate on the absorp­tion of EU funds in the peri­od 2007–2013 is con­cerned, in gen­er­al, the gov­ern­ment (which con­sists of the Civic Plat­form and the Pol­ish Pop­u­lar (Peasant’s) Par­ty) ensured that EU funds in 2007–2013 would be spent with­out prob­lems, while the oppo­si­tion par­ties were skep­ti­cal about this dec­la­ra­tion.

Accord­ing to the min­is­ter of region­al devel­op­ment, delays in the start-up of the EU struc­tur­al pro­grammes in 2007–2013 were caused – to a large extent — by the fact that nego­ti­a­tions with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion fin­ished only in 2007. As a result, 2008 was the first year of the actu­al imple­men­ta­tion of these pro­grammes. More­over, in the view of Bieńkows­ka, delays in absorp­tion of EU funds in 2007–2013 were caused by the fact that the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment (in which the Law and Jus­tice was the main par­ty and Jarosław Kaczyńs­ki was the Prime Min­is­ter) did not pre­pare nec­es­sary legal adjust­ments in the field of envi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion to the EU law (in par­tic­u­lar in the field of assess­ing the impact of invest­ments on envi­ron­ment). Afore­men­tioned, incom­pat­i­bil­i­ties caused con­fu­sion among self-gov­ern­ments. Some of them decid­ed to sus­pend com­pe­ti­tion pro­ce­dures with­in the so-called Region­al Oper­a­tional Pro­grammes (car­ried out at region­al lev­el in all Pol­ish voivode­ships) until the Pol­ish act on envi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion would be com­pat­i­ble with the EU law. They were afraid that the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion would not clear these funds as they were spent in con­flict with acquis com­mu­nau­taire, and that they would have to give them back to Brus­sels. For these rea­sons, the present gov­ern­ment had to make huge progress in the field of adjust­ments of Pol­ish laws to the Euro­pean ones.

Accord­ing to the Min­is­ter of Region­al Devel­op­ment, Elż­bi­eta Bieńkows­ka, Poland is not lag­ging behind in the field of absorp­tion of EU funds avail­able in the pro­gram­ming peri­od 2007–2013 in com­par­i­son with oth­er mem­ber states of the Euro­pean Union.

How­ev­er, accord­ing to the deputies of the Law and Jus­tice par­ty as well as the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Left Alliance, the gov­ern­ment did not make sat­is­fac­to­ry efforts in order to increase the lev­el of absorp­tion of the EU funds in 2007–2013. More­over, deputies of these par­ties blamed the gov­ern­ment for delays in announc­ing the com­pe­ti­tion for EU funds with­in the pro­grammes imple­ment­ed at the nation­al lev­el, such as for exam­ple, the Oper­a­tional Pro­gramme “Inno­v­a­tive Econ­o­my”.

Accord­ing to Graży­na Gęsic­ka, at present a deputy of the Law and Jus­tice par­ty and ear­li­er in the gov­ern­ment of Jarosław Kaczyńs­ki, respon­si­ble for region­al devel­op­ment, pre­pared the project of law on envi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion but – for unknown rea­sons – the present gov­ern­ment did not use it properly.[33] In the opin­ion of Graży­na Gęsic­ka, delays in EU funds in 2007–2013 absorp­tion were caused by polit­i­cal, legal and admin­is­tra­tive fac­tors. As far as the polit­i­cal fac­tors are con­cerned, Gęsic­ka crit­i­cized the cur­rent gov­ern­ment for the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the lists of the so-called key projects that were orig­i­nal­ly pre­pared under her direction.[34] Accord­ing to her, the announce­ment of the inten­tion to ver­i­fy the lists of these projects by the gov­ern­ment led to the sus­pen­sion of the prepa­ra­tion of these projects by the ben­e­fi­cia­ries. As far as legal fac­tors are con­cerned, Gęsic­ka crit­i­cised the gov­ern­ment for mak­ing inap­pro­pri­ate legal reg­u­la­tions which delayed car­ry­ing out and account­ing EU-fund­ed projects. Final­ly, as far as admin­is­tra­tive bar­ri­ers of delays in EU funds 2007–2013 absorp­tion are con­cerned, Gęsic­ka blamed the gov­ern­ment for delays in sign­ing con­tracts with ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the key projects.[35]

How­ev­er, accord­ing to the present Min­is­ter of Region­al Devel­op­ment, Bieńkows­ka, the pre­dom­i­nant major­i­ty of the key projects accept­ed by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment with­in the oper­a­tional pro­gramme “Infra­struc­ture and Envi­ron­ment”, were not prop­er­ly pre­pared to car­ry out. They were of low qual­i­ty. E.g. In case of 90 per­cent of them a nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion was not elab­o­rat­ed.

As far as the debate on the absorp­tion of EU funds in the peri­od 2007–2013 is con­cerned, one should men­tion that in August 2008, the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment launched an action enti­tled “Sim­ple funds”, which had as its aim to mon­i­tor and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly reduce exces­sive and redun­dant bureau­crat­ic for­mal­i­ties relat­ed to EU-fund­ed struc­tur­al pro­grammes that are imple­ment­ed at cen­tral lev­el in the years 2007–2013 (Oper­a­tional Pro­grammes: “Human Cap­i­tal”, “Infra­struc­ture and Envi­ron­ment”, “Inno­v­a­tive Econ­o­my”).

A spe­cial e‑mail ser­vice start­ed to func­tion in order to enable poten­tial ben­e­fi­cia­ries to send infor­ma­tion about obsta­cles and prob­lems which they faced when apply­ing for EU funds or while car­ry­ing out projects. E‑mails would be analysed by a spe­cial team com­posed of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of insti­tu­tions involved in the imple­men­ta­tion of the EU region­al pol­i­cy in Poland in the pro­gram­ming peri­od 2007–2013 as well as ben­e­fi­cia­ries. This team acts per­ma­nent­ly and con­sists of three work­ing groups which deal with three prob­lem areas: self-gov­ern­ments and infra­struc­ture, entre­pre­neur­ship as well as the Euro­pean Social Fund.

The action “Sim­ple funds” was pos­i­tive­ly appre­ci­at­ed by experts of the non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion – “Pol­ish Con­fed­er­a­tion of Pri­vate Employ­ers “Lewiatan”. In the opin­ion of spe­cial­ists of “Lewiatan”, despite sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of pro­ce­dures that were car­ried out on the ini­tia­tive of the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment, there still exist redun­dant for­mal­i­ties in the EU-fund­ed pro­grammes in 2007–2013, espe­cial­ly with­in the Region­al Oper­a­tional Pro­grammes (ROPs). In par­tic­u­lar, “Lewiatan” indi­cat­ed that the cri­te­ria for choos­ing projects should be clear, under­stand­able and unam­bigu­ous. There­fore, this orga­ni­za­tion pre­pared a propo­si­tion of the set of for­mal cri­te­ria – a point of ref­er­ence for ROPs in all voivodeships.[36]

As far as for­mal bur­dens in apply­ing for EU funds are con­cerned, in the sec­ond half of the year 2008, the “Pol­ish Con­fed­er­a­tion of Pri­vate Employ­ers Lewiatan” con­duct­ed the sur­vey con­cern­ing the opin­ion of Pol­ish entre­pre­neurs on the sys­tem of EU funds’ absorp­tion in Poland (rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple size amount­ed to 1100 firms). Accord­ing to almost 55 per­cent of respon­dents, the objec­tives of EU sub­ven­tions were not cor­re­lat­ed with the real needs of enter­pris­es (for exam­ple too much EU funds were allo­cat­ed to “soft” projects such as train­ings instead of “hard” invest­ments). More­over, as many as over 51 per­cent of entre­pre­neurs stat­ed that for­mal require­ments were too com­pli­cat­ed. Final­ly, almost 47 per­cent of the par­tic­i­pants of the sur­vey indi­cat­ed that the cri­te­ria of choos­ing projects were com­plete­ly unclear for them.[37]

One should men­tion that in Octo­ber 2008, the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment launched a cam­paign aimed at pro­mot­ing and inform­ing about EU funds con­cern­ing the pro­gram­ming peri­od 2007–2013.[38] Radio and TV spots, as well as bill­boards that appeared in 51 Pol­ish cities, will be used in order to inform 14 mil­lion peo­ple about pos­si­bil­i­ties that give EU funds. A spe­cial inter­net por­tal devot­ed to EU funds start­ed to func­tion. It is assumed that with­in the afore­men­tioned cam­paign, 16 region­al and 90 sub region­al infor­ma­tion points relat­ed to EU funds will be cre­at­ed.

In addi­tion to this, as far as EU funds’ absorp­tion issues are con­cerned, in the sec­ond half of the year 2008, a huge scope of con­fer­ences and sem­i­nars devot­ed to dif­fer­ent aspects of region­al devel­op­ment pol­i­cy took place in War­saw. Exam­ples are the fol­low­ing: the con­fer­ence “Euro­pean cohe­sion pol­i­cy as a fac­tor of growth and reduc­tion of devel­op­ment dis­par­i­ties” – July 2008; the debate “Is Poland able to cre­ate an inno­v­a­tive econ­o­my?” – August 2008; the con­fer­ence devot­ed to the imple­men­ta­tion of the prin­ci­ple of good gov­er­nance in Poland – Sep­tem­ber 2008; the con­fer­ence “Poland and regions – per­spec­tives of devel­op­ment in the XXI cen­tu­ry” – Octo­ber 2008; and the Fourth Eval­u­a­tion Con­fer­ence “Eval­u­a­tion – cru­cial instru­ment for improv­ing pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion per­for­mance” – Octo­ber 2008. These events gave an excel­lent occa­sion for debates as well as exchange of infor­ma­tion and best prac­tices between dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions, firms and indi­vid­ual per­sons involved in the process of imple­men­ta­tion of the EU struc­tur­al pol­i­cy in Poland.[39]

As far as chal­lenges for EU region­al pol­i­cy relat­ed to the world finan­cial cri­sis are con­cerned, the gov­ern­ment side declared to do its best to make EU funds the prin­ci­pal impulse of the devel­op­ment of the Pol­ish econ­o­my. In par­tic­u­lar, the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union planned to sup­port – to a larg­er extent – with the help of EU funds, devel­op­ment of pub­lic infra­struc­ture and pri­vate invest­ments. The gov­ern­ment declared to reduce the num­ber of doc­u­ments required when apply­ing for EU funds. More­over, the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union planned to increase an avail­abil­i­ty of EU funds for enter­pris­es and self-gov­ern­ments and, as a result, to increase the num­ber of con­tracts signed with the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of EU funds by increas­ing the amount of install­ments of EU funds avail­able for them. As a con­se­quence, they would not have to take bank cred­its in order to finance invest­ments sup­port­ed with­in EU funds. Accord­ing to Min­is­ter Bieńkows­ka, there is no threat that banks will not give cred­its to enter­pris­es which will prof­it from EU funds as the firms that applied for EU-funds in the past are attrac­tive clients for them.[40] Plans of the gov­ern­ment con­cern­ing EU funds’ spend­ing in the face of the world finan­cial cri­sis were pos­i­tive­ly appre­ci­at­ed by inde­pen­dent experts in the field of EU funds such as for exam­ple, Jerzy Kwiecińs­ki, a for­mer Vice-Min­is­ter of Region­al Devel­op­ment as well as experts of the con­sult­ing com­pa­ny “Ernst & Young”, Poland.[41]

One should men­tion that some deputies of the Pol­ish par­lia­ment were afraid of the neg­a­tive impact of the world finan­cial cri­sis on the dynam­ics of EU funds’ absorp­tion. How­ev­er, in the opin­ion of Min­is­ter Bieńkows­ka, the main prob­lem could be relat­ed to the avail­abil­i­ty of cred­its to Pol­ish enter­pris­es.

It seems that social con­sul­ta­tions of the doc­u­ments reg­u­lat­ing dif­fer­ent aspects of the imple­men­ta­tion of the struc­tur­al funds in the pro­gram­ming peri­od 2007–2013, which took place in the sec­ond half of the year 2008, can to some extent, be treat­ed as a pub­lic debate on the absorp­tion of EU funds because these con­sul­ta­tions usu­al­ly took the form of con­fer­ences. A wide range of part­ners includ­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of gov­ern­ment, self-gov­ern­ments, entre­pre­neurs, socio-eco­nom­ic part­ners, non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, high schools, research cen­tres, trade unions, deputies, media, inde­pen­dent experts etc., could present their crit­i­cal remarks on the con­sult­ed doc­u­ments as well as rec­om­men­da­tions via e‑mail, post as well as by pos­ing ques­tions dur­ing the meet­ings. In par­tic­u­lar, one can dis­tin­guish con­sul­ta­tions of the fol­low­ing doc­u­ments: fore­cast of assess­ment of the project of the strat­e­gy of social and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment of the East­ern Poland till the year 2020, up-date of the list of key projects (includ­ing the so-called “big projects”) which will be car­ried out with­in the oper­a­tional pro­grammes (for exam­ple with­in the oper­a­tional pro­grammes “Infra­struc­ture and Envi­ron­ment” and “Inno­v­a­tive Econ­o­my”), projects of the detailed descrip­tions of the pri­or­i­ties of the oper­a­tional rogramme “Devel­op­ment of East­ern Poland” as well as Green Paper on Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Cohe­sion – a doc­u­ment pre­pared by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

As far as the state of pub­lic debate on the EU cohe­sion pol­i­cy post-2013 is con­cerned, the debate was reflect­ed, among oth­ers, by a vari­ety of ini­tia­tives under­tak­en by the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment. In par­tic­u­lar, the Min­istry was the author of the ini­tia­tive addressed to the sci­en­tif­ic envi­ron­ment, enti­tled “Chal­lenges for the cohe­sion pol­i­cy”. It announced a com­pe­ti­tion for expert’s reports devot­ed to dif­fer­ent aspects of EU cohe­sion pol­i­cy post-2013 such as: ter­ri­to­r­i­al cohe­sion in the sec­toral poli­cies of the EU; the­mat­ic con­cen­tra­tion of the EU cohe­sion pol­i­cy post-2013 – propo­si­tions of reforms and rec­om­men­da­tions for the posi­tion of Poland in this field; ways of mea­sur­ing effec­tive­ness of the Euro­pean cohe­sion pol­i­cy.

In addi­tion to this, in Decem­ber 2008, the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment orga­nized a meet­ing enti­tled “Region­al pol­i­cy from the Euro­pean and nation­al points of view” which had as its aim to present reports con­cern­ing EU region­al pol­i­cy, pre­pared in 2008 by the British research cen­ter – EoR­PA (“Euro­pean Region­al Pol­i­cy Research Con­sor­tium”). These reports con­cerned, among oth­ers, the debate on the under­stand­ing and prac­ti­cal use of the term of ter­ri­to­r­i­al cohe­sion. This meet­ing turned out to be an excel­lent occa­sion for debate devot­ed to dif­fer­ent aspects of region­al devel­op­ment and con­duct­ing region­al policy.[42]

As far as the debate on the new con­cept of the Pol­ish region­al pol­i­cy is con­cerned, it is worth men­tion­ing that the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment put a strong empha­sis on the strate­gic atti­tude towards devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing pol­i­cy of region­al devel­op­ment in Poland. Between May and July 2008, the Min­istry con­duct­ed a sur­vey addressed to insti­tu­tions of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion at the cen­tral and region­al lev­el (min­istries and Mar­shall offices). The sur­vey was an ele­ment of the efforts of the Min­istry aim­ing at elab­o­ra­tion of the com­pre­hen­sive con­cept of region­al pol­i­cy con­duct­ed by the Pol­ish state. The aim of this sur­vey was to get to know the opin­ions of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion about the nec­es­sary changes in the Pol­ish region­al pol­i­cy. As a result of the sur­vey, the fol­low­ing the­mat­ic areas turned out to be impor­tant: the role of self-gov­ern­ments in the sec­toral poli­cies, fac­tors deter­min­ing the com­pet­i­tive­ness of voivode­ships, cohe­sion and com­ple­men­tar­i­ty of finan­cial sup­port for rur­al areas. Respon­dents indi­cat­ed sev­er­al weak­ness­es of the Pol­ish region­al pol­i­cy such as, for instance, lack of a cohe­sive strate­gic doc­u­ment con­cern­ing region­al devel­op­ment which would be less gen­er­al than the exist­ing Nation­al Devel­op­ment Strat­e­gy 2007–2015. Accord­ing to respon­dents, there is a need to increase com­pe­tences and the respon­si­bil­i­ty of self-gov­ern­ments in the field of con­duct­ing devel­op­ment pol­i­cy at region­al lev­el. More­over, the most fre­quent prob­lem area indi­cat­ed by respon­dents was the rela­tion between urban and rur­al areas in Poland (the most urgent issues are the fol­low­ing: quick com­mu­ni­ca­tion between these areas, devel­op­ment of access to Inter­net, improve­ment of the qual­i­ty of edu­ca­tion).

On the basis of the afore­men­tioned sur­vey con­duct­ed among the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion of cen­tral and region­al lev­els as well as find­ings of work­ing groups com­posed of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of min­istries, self-gov­ern­ments, experts and sci­en­tists, in Decem­ber 2008, the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters approved the doc­u­ment “Con­cept of the new region­al pol­i­cy. The­sis and foun­da­tions for the Nation­al Strat­e­gy of Region­al Devel­op­ment”. Three main objec­tives of the Pol­ish region­al pol­i­cy were pro­posed by the Min­istry: increase in com­pet­i­tive­ness of voivode­ships, util­i­sa­tion of their inner poten­tial as well as ensur­ing equal devel­op­ment chances between Pol­ish regions.[43]

Pre-term parliamentary elections and the EU Presidency in 2011

An impor­tant sub­ject of recent polit­i­cal debate in Poland is the ques­tion of the date for the next par­lia­men­tary (Sejm and Sen­ate) elec­tions in 2011, which are sched­uled to take place in autumn of 2011 and thus will coin­cide with Poland’s term of the EU-pres­i­den­cy.

Basi­cal­ly, all major polit­i­cal forces (gov­ern­ing and oppo­si­tion par­ties as well as the pres­i­dent) share the opin­ion that the elec­toral cam­paign can­not be rec­on­ciled with a suc­cess­ful and effi­cient EU-pres­i­den­cy.

Two solu­tions are being dis­cussed cur­rent­ly: one, the self-dis­missal of the par­lia­ment and new elec­tions to be held in the spring of 2011 and the sec­ond: exchang­ing the pres­i­den­cy peri­od with one of the EU part­ners (name­ly Den­mark) as pro­posed by the Left Demo­c­ra­t­ic Alliance.[44]

Accord­ing to the head par­lia­men­tary club of the gov­ern­ing Civic Plat­form, Poland should con­sid­er both pos­si­bil­i­ties, yet he also pre­sent­ed him­self as a sup­port­er of pre-term elections.[45] The con­cept of pre-term elec­tions has been sup­port­ed also by the spokesman of the Law and Jus­tice par­ty, Adam Bielan[46] and one of the par­ty mem­bers Pawel Pon­cyliusz, who stressed that ear­li­er elec­tions are less com­pli­cat­ed than chang­ing the order of the presidency.[47] The head of the Left Club in the Sejm[48] sug­gest­ed that Poland needs already now to dis­cuss the prob­lem with EU part­ners so that to work out an alter­na­tive vari­ant (changed pres­i­den­cy order) as oth­er­wise it would be dif­fi­cult to expect change of the date for Poland’s next par­lia­men­tary elections.[49]

Pres­i­dent Lech Kaczynski,[50] stressed clear­ly that a new par­lia­men­tary elec­tions cam­paign can­not be ran par­al­lel to the EU-pres­i­den­cy and he described the pre-term elec­tions as “an inter­est­ing pro­pos­al”. The Pres­i­dent stressed also that announce­ment of new elec­tions by the Pres­i­dent can take place only if con­sti­tu­tion­al rea­sons occur,[51] while self-dis­missal of the Sejm would require com­pro­mise among the two largest parties.[52]

 

 

 

[1] Jędrzej Bielec­ki, “Unia uza­leżniła się od Rosji, Raport: Wspól­no­ta praw­ie połowę gazu kupu­je od Krem­la” [Union depen­dent on Rus­sia. Report: Com­mu­ni­ty buys almost ½ of oil from Krem­lin] “Dzi­en­nik” dai­ly, 12 Novem­ber 2008.
[2] Domini­ka Pszczółkows­ka, Kon­rad Niklewicz, “Bruk­sela chce więcej sol­i­darnoś­ci w dostawach energii i wiek­szego unieza­leżnienia się od Rosji, zaś pol­s­ki rząd wal­czy o spec­jalne trak­towanie naszej ener­gety­ki” [Brus­sels wants more sol­i­dar­i­ty in ener­gy sup­plies and greater inde­pen­dence from Rus­sia, Pol­ish gov­ern­ment strives for spe­cial treat­ment for our ener­gy indus­try], “Gaze­ta Wybor­cza” dai­ly, 14 Novem­ber 2008.
[3] Ibid.; Edwin Bendyk, “Pol­s­ka weszła w kon­flikt z Komisją Europe­jską o to, jak chronić kli­mat. Nie jesteśmy już jed­nak sami, co potwierdz­ił ostat­ni szczyt Grupy Wyszechradzkie [Poland entered into an argu­ment with Euro­pean Com­mis­sion on the ques­tion of cli­mate. But we are not alone any­more as was con­firmed by last Viseg­rad Group Sum­mit] “Poli­ty­ka” week­ly, 12 Novem­ber 2008.
[4] Domini­ka Pszczółkows­ka, Kon­rad Niklewicz, op. cit.
[5] Inter­ne­towa Agenc­ja Radiowa, 17 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.polskieradio.pl/iar/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[6] Euro­pean Ser­vice of PAP, Pol­ish Press Agency, 17 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.euro.pap.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[7] News Archive of the Min­is­tery of Finance, 30 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.mf.gov.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[8] Inter­net ser­vice: www. money.pl on 16 Sep­tem­ber 2008.
[9] Prof. Witold Orlows­ki quot­ed by Euro­pean Ser­vice of PAP, Pol­ish Press Agency on 10 Sept. 2008.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Pol­ish Con­fed­er­a­tion of Pri­vate Employ­ers Lewiatan, Euro na EURO 2012? [EUR for EURO 2012], 18 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.pkpplewiatan.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[13] Busi­ness Cen­tre Club, Posi­tion: Announce­ment on EUR ben­e­fi­cial for the econ­o­my, War­saw, 11 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.bcc.org.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[14] Inter­na­towa Agenc­ja Radiowa, 19 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.polskieradio.pl/iar/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[15] Euro­pean Ser­vice of PAP, Pol­ish Press Agency, 17 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.euro.pap.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[16] Pol­ish Press Agency PAP,17 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.pap.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[17] Pol­ish Press Agency PAP, 9 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.pap.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[18] Inter­ne­towa Agenc­ja Radiowa, http://www.polskieradio.pl/iar/ on 27 Oct. 2008 and Pol­ish Press Agency PAP, www.pap.com.pl on 9 Dec. 2008.
[19] Pol­ish Press Agency PAP, 17 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.pap.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[20] Rzecz­pospoli­ta dai­ly on 25 Novem­ber 2008.
[21] Inter­net ser­vice www.money.pl on 26 Octo­ber 2008.
[22] Pol­ish Press Agency PAP on 30 Decem­ber 2008.
[23] Inter­ne­towa Agenc­ja Radiowa, 15 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.polskieradio.pl/iar/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[24] Cen­trum Bada­nia Opinii Spolecznej CBOS, Research Com­mu­niqué No. BS/180/2008, War­saw, Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.cbos.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[25] See: http://unfccc.int/2860.php (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[26] Gaze­ta Wybor­cza dai­ly edi­tion from 9 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[27] Gaze­ta Wybor­cza dai­ly, edi­tion from 9 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[28] See: www.pap.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[29] Research done among Pol­ish cit­i­zens above the age of 18, on a research sam­ple of 500 respon­dents. Resarch done by TNS OBOP on demand of Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in Poland. 17–19 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.ukie.gov.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[30] Absorp­tion of EU funds in Poland has an increas­ing ten­den­cy. Accord­ing to the most recent data of the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment, from the begin­ning of the func­tion­ing of the EU struc­tur­al pro­grammes in 2004 till the end of Decem­ber 2008, approx­i­mate­ly 30,1 bln zlo­tys have already been spent. As a result, the payments/commitments ratio amounts to over 92 per­cent. Over 6,6 bln Euro from the struc­tur­al funds and from the Cohe­sion Fund (over 77 per­cent of the com­mit­ments of these funds for Poland in the pro­gram­ming peri­od 2004–2006) have already been refund­ed by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. As far as the absorp­tion of EU funds 2007–2013 is con­cerned, from the begin­ning of the func­tion­ing of these pro­grammes till the end of Decem­ber 2008, the lev­el of qual­i­fied expens­es indi­cat­ed by ben­e­fi­cia­ries in the appli­ca­tions for pay­ments (in the part con­cern­ing EU funds) amount­ed to over 992,5 mln euro. 22 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.funduszestrukturalne.gov.pl/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[31] Accord­ing to the data of the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment (Octo­ber 2008), the results of the IROP inter­ven­tions in Poland were the fol­low­ing: over three thou­sand and a half of new roads, 596 thou­sands square meters of sport and didac­tic build­ings, over 4,6 thou­sands pieces of med­ical equip­ment. “Tusk: zdany egza­min z wyko­rzys­ta­nia środ­ków UE” [Passed exam in EU funds spend­ing]. Pol­ish Press Agency, 30 Octo­ber 2008. Source: http://euro.pap.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009); “Kon­fer­enc­ja: Zin­te­growany Pro­gram Oper­a­cyjny Roz­wo­ju Region­al­nego 2004–2006 — tak wiele dla tak wielu”, 30 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.funduszestrukturalne.gov.pl/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[32] Word play: “FUN­Da­men­tal changes in regions”.
[33] “Pol­sko-pol­s­ki spór o uni­jne fun­dusze” – inter­views of Kon­rad Niklewicz with Graży­na Gęsic­ka – the for­mer min­is­ter of region­al devel­op­ment and Elż­bi­eta Bieńkows­ka – the present min­is­ter of region­al devel­op­ment, 22 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://gospodarka.gazeta.pl/gospodarka (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009)
[34] At the begin­ning of the year 2008 the min­is­ter of region­al devel­op­ment Elż­bi­eta Bieńkows­ka ver­i­fied the indica­tive list of the so-called key projects which will be co-financed in the years 2007–2013 with­in the fol­low­ing Oper­a­tional Pro­grammes “Inno­v­a­tive Econ­o­my”, “Infra­struc­ture and Envi­ron­ment” and “Devel­op­ment of East­ern Poland”. Key projects are the projects that have a strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance for the social and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment of Poland. They are accept­ed indi­vid­u­al­ly by the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment and are not sub­ject to the com­pe­ti­tion pro­ce­dures. The orig­i­nal list of these projects was elab­o­rat­ed by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, in which Graży­na Gęsic­ka was the min­is­ter of region­al devel­op­ment. All in all 853 projects (of which 541 basic and 312 reserve ones) were set on the orig­i­nal list. The ver­i­fi­ca­tion of this list was exe­cut­ed by the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment which took into account rec­om­men­da­tions giv­en by dif­fer­ent min­istries of the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment which will be engaged in the imple­men­ta­tion of EU funds in the com­ing years. These min­istries gave to the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment its rec­om­men­da­tions and pro­pos­als of the ver­i­fied lists of projects. The lists were also con­sult­ed with experts. As a con­se­quence of the projects’ ver­i­fi­ca­tion, the num­ber of key projects was reduced by almost a half (from 853 to 433 projects). As a result, 22 per­cent of finan­cial means orig­i­nal­ly allo­cat­ed to the key projects (29 mld Zlo­tys) was shift­ed to the ones that would be cho­sen in the frames of the com­pe­ti­tion pro­ce­dures. Ver­i­fied lists of key projects have to be reviewed and ver­i­fied every six months in the process of social con­sul­ta­tions. Those projects which are not ready to car­ry out (that is to say in case of which pre­lim­i­nary or final con­tracts are not signed) are to be removed from the list.
[35] “PiS kry­tyku­je rząd za opiesza­łość w wydawa­niu uni­jnych pieniędzy”, Pol­ish Press Agency, 20 Octo­ber 2008; “Bieńkows­ka: o wyko­rzys­ta­niu środ­ków uni­jnych”, Pol­ish Press Agency, 23 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://euro.pap.com.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[36] “Akc­ja Proste Fun­dusze”, 14 August 2008, avail­able at: www.pkpplewiatan.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009); “Oce­na for­mal­na pro­jek­tów w RPO”, 8 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.pkpplewiatan.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[37] Kon­rad Niklewicz, “Jak rozruszać uni­jne fun­dusze”, 28 Novem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://gospodarka.gazeta.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[38] This infor­ma­tion cam­paign is co-financed by EU funds with­in the Oper­a­tional Pro­gramme “Tech­ni­cal Assis­tance 2007–2013”.
[39] Infor­ma­tion avail­able on the offi­cial web­site of the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment, avail­able at: http://www.mrr.gov.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009)
[40] “Ban­ki nie ograniczą kredytów przed­siębior­com”, inter­view of Anna Cieślak-Wróblews­ka and Paweł Jabłońs­ki with the min­is­ter of region­al devel­op­ment Elż­bi­eta Bieńkows­ka, “Rzecz­pospoli­ta”, 8 Novem­ber 2008. avail­able at: http://www.rp.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[41] Anna Cieślak-Wróblews­ka, “Zal­icz­ki na pro­jek­ty uni­jne mogą pomóc pol­skim fir­mom”, “Rzecz­pospoli­ta”, 10 Novem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.rp.pl/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009); Kon­rad Niklewicz, “Wielkie przyspiesze­nie za uni­jne mil­iardy”, “Gaze­ta Wybor­cza”, 27 Novem­ber 2008.
[42] “Kon­fer­enc­ja: Poli­ty­ka region­al­na w aspekcie wspól­no­towym i kra­jowym” – infor­ma­tion of the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment, 10 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.mrr.gov.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[43] “Kon­fer­enc­ja: Nowa kon­cepc­ja poli­ty­ki – rekomen­dac­je dla poli­ty­ki region­al­nej państ­wa” – infor­ma­tion of the Min­istry of Region­al Devel­op­ment, 4 August 2008, avail­able at: http://www.mrr.gov.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009)
[44] Pro­pos­al by Left Demo­c­ra­t­ic Alliance, Gaze­ta Wybor­cza dai­ly on 18 Jan­u­ary 2009 after Pol­ish Press Agency, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[45] Zbig­niew Chle­bows­ki for Radio ZET, after Gaze­ta Wybrocza dai­ly on 18 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[46] Adam Bielan for Radio RMF, after TVN24 TV sta­tion, 19 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: www.tvn24.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[47] Mag­a­zyn 24 godziny, 18 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: www.tvn24.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[48] Low­er house of the Pol­ish Par­lia­ment.
[49] Woj­ciech Ole­jniczak, Head of Sejm Par­lia­men­tary Club, “Gaze­ta Wybor­cza” dai­ly, Pol­ish Press Agency on 18 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009)
[50] Pres­i­dent Lech Kaczyn­s­ki at a press con­fer­ence in Ostrow Wielkopol­s­ki, “Gaze­ta Wybrocza” daliy after Pol­ish Press Agency on 19 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: www.gazeta.pl (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[51] Lack of bud­get bill and non-estab­lish­ment of gov­ern­ment in third attempt.
[52] Civic Plat­form and Law and Jus­tice.