Michał Gosek

Tax adviser (Poland)
Associate Partner
Phone: +48 61 624 49 39

The new EU budget proposal has earmarked EUR 82.5 billion for implementing the cohesion policy in Poland. This means that in the years to come Poland will be the largest beneficiary of the EU cohesion policy funds among all Member States. 

Under the new financial framework 2014–2020, projects eligible for aid will have to deal with the areas most important for the country's development. Therefore, the EU aid will be available for:

  • scientific research and its commercialisation;
  • innovation and connections between R&D and enterprise sector;
  • key road connections (motorways, expressways) and environment-friendly transport (railways, public transport);
  • state digitalisation (administration e-services, broadband Internet access);
  • green energy (renewable energy sources, energy efficiency);
  • employment activation and social capital development. 

The key to qualify a project for a grant is how it contributes to the best possible utilisation of regional potential. Grants will also gravitate towards undertakings targeted to market innovative solutions which may bring long-term effects.

Enterprises are going to be ones of the most important beneficiaries of the new multiannual financial framework 2014–2020. The key issue, when it comes to the question of what kind of project may be supported in Poland, is the enterprise size. The diagram below shows the main areas of support for Poland, broken down by enterprise categories depending on their size: micro, small, medium-sized (SME) and large enterprises which may invest in the appropriate direction.

Moreover, judging by the projects which qualified for grants in the years 2007–2013, and looking at where the Polish economy is heading, it seems that the industries to grow most in terms of investments in the years 2014–2020 are going to include:

  • Automotive,
  • Electronics (HI-TEC),
  • IT,
  • Outsourcing / shared services centres,
  • Food & beverage industry.

The funds may be allocated to the above areas by means of:

  • 6 nationwide Operational Programmes including one transregional programme covering 5 Eastern Poland provinces;
  • 16 regional Operational Programmes.

How the funds are allocated within individual Operational Programmes

Agenda Budget (EUR mln)
Infrastructure and Environment 27,413.7
Smart Growth 8,613.9
Knowledge, Education, Growth 4,689.3
Digital Poland 2,172.5
Eastern Poland 2,000.0
Technical Assistance 700.1
Regional Operational Programmes 31,276.9

The percentage allocation of EU funds in Poland within individual Operational Programmes

Short characteristics of the Operational Programmes in Poland in the years 2014–2020:

  1. Infrastructure and Environment  Programme – under this programme large enterprises will be able to obtain grants for investments in support of transition to low-emission economy, energy efficiency increase, use of renewable energy sources.
  2. Smart Growth Programme (successor of Innovative Economy) – oriented at development of innovation in Polish economy, mainly by stimulating research and development and transferring the results to the economy sector. The Programme's lead slogan says: "project support from idea to market". This programme will let large enterprises develop innovative projects involving collaboration with scientific units in order to commercialise scientific research results, and will let increase the outlays on research and development in companies. The incentive scheme will stimulate enterprises' demand for innovation and R&D work.
  3. Knowledge, Education, Growth Programme (successor of Human Capital) – under this programme companies will be able to carry out projects involving training for employees so that the personnel competences and skills are developed.
  4. Digital Poland Programme (no such project in the previous period) – addressed to the public sector. Telecommunications companies will receive funds for construction, extension or restructuring of broadband Internet access, and support for e-administration and e-services in collaboration with local and central government administration. Furthermore, local government units can use this programme to implement tasks aiming at e-integration and e-activation to increase intensity and quality of the Internet use,
  5. Eastern Poland Programme – covers the Eastern macro-region including 5 provinces: lubelskie, podkarpackie, podlaskie, świętokrzyskie and warmińsko-mazurskie. Large companies may use this programme to obtain aid for research and development work, building and expanding R&D facilities, projects concerning eco-innovation and energy efficiency which would lead to innovation;
  6. Technical Assistance Programme – is going to be a tool to build potential of institutions in charge of financial intervention from within structural funds.
  7. Regional Operational Programmes – the aid under the Regional Operational Programmes is going to be distributed in line with individual needs of the region. As a matter of principle, such investments should complement national efforts on: popularising information and telecommunications technologies, research, technological development and innovation, infrastructure, environmental protection as well as energy and transport.

Responsibility for distribution of EU funds in Poland is going to be shifted more to provinces. Significantly more funds are going to be managed through the Regional Operational Programmes focused on local and regional investments. Between 2007 and 2013, local governments handled about 25% of all funds for Poland, now they will be in charge of almost 40% of the lot. Consequently, local governments will have more freedom in choosing which growth targets they want to focus on.

The table below shows allocation of funds under the Regional Operational Programmes by region.

Noteworthy, the mazowieckie province was the first Polish province to leave the category of the least developed regions according to the EU classification (it crossed the threshold of 75% EU GDP per capita). As a consequence, the budget for this region was structured slightly differently than in other provinces. However, as the mazowieckie province is developed very unevenly, the fund allocation will be adapted to the existing disproportions across the province and will take into account the specific needs of individual sub-regions. Therefore, certain actions for the mazowieckie province will be carried out under nationwide programmes or separate priority investment projects. 

A new opportunity will be the option of two-fund regional programmes which allow for implementing both soft projects, like training courses or seminars (aided by the European Social Fund), as well as hard, infrastructural projects (aided by the European Regional Development Fund). The combination of funding from these two sources will allow undertaking more comprehensive and flexible actions. 

Funding level

The funding percentage stipulates what part of eligible costs will be reimbursed. The funding level depends on the enterprise's status, type and location of the project and the category of eligible costs.

The maps below show the level of funding in terms of reimbursement of costs of investment projects to micro and small enterprises. With respect to the years 2007–2013, the intensity of state aid in Poland was determined in line with the Council of Ministers Regulation of 13 October 2006 concerning the regional aid map (Journal of Laws No. 190, item 1402). As of this moment, the European Commission has approved the 2014–2020 regional aid map for Poland which follows the Draft Council of Ministers Regulation of 07/08/2013 concerning the 2014–2020 regional aid map for Poland, and is scheduled to enter into force on 1 July 2014. 

The aid levels presented on the maps:

  • are reduced by 10 percentage points if a project is carried out by a medium-sized enterprise; and
  • are reduced by 20 percentage points if a project is carried out by a large enterprise. 

The regional aid map in Poland for 2007–2013, valid until 30 June 2014

The regional aid map in Poland for 2014-2020, valid from 1 July 2014

* mazowieckie province:

- sub-regions: ciechanowsko-płocki, ostrołęcko-siedlecki, radomski and warszawski wschodni – 55%

- sub-region: warszawski zachodni – 40%

Capital city of Warsaw:

from 01/07/2014 to 31/12/2017 – 35%

from 01/01/2018 to 31/12/2020 – 30%

The new structure and management system of the EU funds is an issue which undoubtedly should draw interest of all enterprises and organisations that wish to enjoy the EU aid in the future. To be effective in applying for the European funds in the 2014–2020 framework it is worth examining your entity's development needs and planning their financing right now. That is why we encourage you to seek our advice on EU funds and state aid and investment advice at our offices in Cracow, Gdansk, Gliwice, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw