Are you wondering when the new EU funds will be available to entrepreneurs, what activities will be co-financed and whether your company will be able to take advantage of them? Are you interested in preparing your company to be competitive in the new funding perspective for Poland for 2021-2027? You may want to read on then to learn more about the opportunities for Poland and Polish enterprises and entrepreneurs in the coming years.
EU FUNDING AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLAND FOR 2021-2027
Like many other countries around the world and in the EU, Poland has been struggling with the pandemic and its consequences for 1.5 years. The negative impact of the crisis was particularly felt by companies, many of which had to limit or shut down their activities for long periods. Start-ups in industries most affected by the pandemic, such as the beauty, tourism, catering, culture, tourism, local commerce, sports, entertainment and recreation and transport industries, were particularly affected. The restrictions related to the pandemic caused significant delays in the start of their operations.
However, thanks to aid from the European Union, many enterprises managed to survive this difficult period and are beginning to strengthen their potential. Faced with these challenges, what can entrepreneurs count on in the coming years? In order to answer this question, it is worth looking at programmes that aim to support entrepreneurs in the new EU funding cycle.
Poland is set to receive a substantial infusion of EU funding, for a total of EUR 76 billion. This amount includes both the Cohesion Fund (EUR 72.2 million) and the Just Transition Fund (EUR 3.8 billion). The Cohesion Fund is dedicated to Member States with a per capita gross national income (GNI) below 90% of the EU’s average. The aim is to reduce economic and social disparities and to promote sustainable development. At 76 billion EUR, Poland’s funding in the new EU programming period is slightly less than in the previous one (EUR 82.5 billion). This decrease is ultimately due to a positive development: the fact that Poland is becoming a richer country.
Moreover, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Polish entrepreneurs will experience an across the board reduction in the availability of EU subsidies. Rather, what is happening is a shift in priorities related to the European Green Deal. Entrepreneurs investing in green technologies and renewable energy will actually see an increase in the availability of external financing. On the other hand, it is true that enterprises operating in “richer” regions of Poland, as well as those seeking subsidies for purely investment projects without the element of innovation, research and development or the aforementioned green technologies, will likely see a decrease in available funding.
The shift to supporting green-related actions can be seen in the addition of a new objective to the Cohesion Policy funding which seeks to enable citizens and local and regional administrations to mitigate the social, economic, environmental and spatial effects of the transformation towards a green economy that is climate neutral. A comparison of allocations for individual thematic objectives of the Cohesion Policy clearly shows that the share of funds for the implementation of innovation, research and development activities will be lower than in previous years (15.5% compared to 25.9%).
Priority will be given instead to environmental objectives, with as much as 32.6% of funds from the national allocation to be invested in this area, an increase of over EUR 19 billion compared to the 2014-2020 period. In the coming years (2021-2027), the funds will generally be allocated to investments in innovation, entrepreneurship, digitization, infrastructure, environmental EU funding aims to reduce economic and social protection, energy, education and social affairs.
Additionally, in order to support the economic consequences of the Green Deal, the EU established the Just Transition Fund. This fund is a key tool for supporting the areas most affected by the transformation efforts to achieve climate neutrality and prevent the widening of regional disparities. Its main goals are to mitigate the economic effects of the green transformation, including on employment, by financing the diversification and modernization of the local economy. To achieve these goals, the fund supports investments in areas such as digital connectivity, clean energy technologies, emission reduction, industrial site regeneration, employee retraining and technical assistance.
As part of the Just Transition Fund, Poland received EUR 3.8 billion for 6 voivodeships (Polish regions): Śląskie, Dolnośląskie, Wielkopolskie, Małopolskie, Łódzkie and Lubelskie. What do these changes in European funding mean for Polish entrepreneurs? Obviously that this a great time to get interested in green technologies and solutions and to implement broadly understood eco-innovations in companies’ development strategies.
UPCOMING FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLAND AND POLISH ENTERPRISES
The 2014-2020 EU funding cycle is coming to an end, with funds utilization at 91%. The last attractive recruitment for entrepreneurs from Eastern Poland (measure 1.1.2 “Development of startups in Eastern Poland”) and the Mazowieckie voivodship (measure 3.3 “Innovations in SMEs”) will carry over to the new period. Another call for applications in the amount of EUR 24 144 515.90 million for digitization in the form of a grant under the name of “Vouchers for digitization” is expected.
After these calls, however, a break in the availability of EU funds is likely. This is because compared to the calendar for approving strategic documents in the 2014-2020 period, the new Partnership Agreement is already delayed by 3 months. Looking back to the 2014-2020 timeline, we can extrapolate that the first Operational Programmes will be announced sometime around February 2022, with the largest number of new opportunities opening up in August-November 2022. For those interested in the nitty-gritty of the funding opportunities expected to become available over the next seven years, the next section delineates the new programmes, their funding and priorities:
Successor to the Infrastructure and Environment Programme (OPI & E) – the program will contribute to the development of a low-emission economy, environmental protection as well as counteracting, and adapting to, climate change. FEnIKS will also support investments in the transportation sector and subsidize health protection and cultural heritage. The planned budget is over EUR 25 billion.
The programme is a continuation of two previous programmes: Innovative Economy 2007-2013 (POIG) and Intelligent Development 2014-2020 (POIR). FENG will support the implementation of research and development, innovation and projects that increase the competitiveness of the Polish economy. Eligible for the programme, among others, are entrepreneurs, institutions from the science sector, consortia of enterprises and business environment institutions, in particular innovation centers. The planned budget is approximately EUR 7.9 billion.
Successor to the Knowledge Education Development Programme (POWER). The main areas of operation of FERS are: work, education, health and accessibility. The FERS will support projects in the field of: improving the situation of people on the labour market, increasing accessibility for people with special needs, providing childcare, improving the quality of education and developing competences, social integration, development of social services and the social economy, and health protection
Is the successor of the Digital Poland Programme (POPC), which in 2014-2020 supported digitization in Poland. FERC will focus primarily on: increasing access to ultra-fast broadband Internet, providing advanced e-services allowing fully electronic settlement of citizens ‘and entrepreneurs’ matters, ensuring cybersecurity as part of a new dedicated area of intervention, development of a data-based economy using the latest digital technologies, development of intersectoral cooperation for the creation of digital solutions to socio-economic problems, support for the development of advanced digital competences, including in the area of cybersecurity for local government units (LGUs) and entrepreneurs. The planned budget of the FERC is approx. EUR 2 billion.
The new programme for the Eastern Poland macroregion will focus on four main areas: strengthening the competitiveness and innovation of enterprises, energy and climate protection, coherent transport network and increasing transport accessibility, and activation of social capital, development of tourism and spa service. In addition to the 5 voivodeships covered by the support so far: Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie and Warmińsko-Mazurskie, the new programme will also benefit the Mazowieckie voivodeship without Warsaw and nine surrounding counties. There are approximately EUR 2.5 billion in the FEPW pool.
The programme has three main priorities: effective institutions, effective beneficiaries and effective communication. Technical Assistance funds will be allocated, inter alia, for: training for beneficiaries of European Funds, development of the national IT system enabling the application and settlement of EU projects, information and promotion activities to increase knowledge about the Funds in Poland. The budget will amount to EUR 0.5 billion.
Support from the EU will go to six regions – Śląskie, Dolnośląskie, Wielkopolskie, Lubelskie, Łódzkie and Małopolskie. These are the voivodships most exposed to the effects of the energy transformation. The budget of the programme is EUR 4.4 billion
The programme’s main goal is to support people experiencing the deepest forms of poverty by providing food aid in the form of packages or meals. The budget is EUR 0.2 billion.
Work on the programme is ongoing. The budget will amount to EUR 0.5 billion.
Interreg programmes support the integration of communities across borders and socio-economic development by jointly addressing challenges in various fields. The budget will amount to EUR 0.56 billion. As in previous EU funding cycles, in the 2021-2027 period approximately 60% of funds from the cohesion policy will go to programmes implemented at the national level. The remaining 40% will be allocated to regional programmes managed by regional administrations (known as Marshal’s Offices in Poland).
The largest scope of support is provided for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. They can look for subsidies primarily in the Regional Programmes of individual voivodeships, but they can also use the funding available from the Intelligent Development Programme and the Eastern Poland Programme.
For more information on opportunities for Poland or similar progammes, check out our FUNDED Magazines.