Sunday

18th Nov 2018

Polish diplomats instructed to defend EU cohesion

  • Warsaw city centre: Poland is the largest beneficiary of Cohesion Policy, but the budget line also has an ideological value (Photo: EUobserver)

With the EU fast approaching talks on its €1 trillion 2014-to-2020 budget, Warsaw has set out its strategy for protecting the bloc's Cohesion Policy, the golden goose of subsidies that put Poland in line to receive €67 billion of EU money in the 2007 to 2013 period.

The 12-page strategy paper, entitled "Position of the Polish government on the Cohesion Policy after 2013," was approved by an internal unit of the foreign ministry on 30 July and is to serve as a blueprint for Polish negotiators in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The document, obtained by Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and seen by EUobserver, spells out the political logic for keeping the policy intact in the coming years.

The Cohesion Policy is a "promoter of integration" and "contributes to the growth potential and global competitiveness of all European regions" at a time when "the EU is going through a difficult financial and economic period, which is impacting its political unity."

It says the existing €347 billion Cohesion Policy basket of funds - such as the Cohesion Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund - should be kept together and even augmented by adding in the €3.5 billion European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

It proposes to buttress the policy's place in the EU institutions by launching new monthly meetings of cohesion-related junior ministers in Brussels.

The money should continue to be distributed under today's so-called "Berlin formula," which privileges regions with low per-capita GDP and high unemployment, the majority of which lie in the EU's post-Communist east.

Member states should have more freedom in choosing spending priorities, with the Cohesion Policy to give strong support for post-Communist-region interests such as transport and communications infrastructure, rural development and "building good neighbourly relations with countries bordering the EU."

Polish diplomats will also be pushing for softer rules on getting EU clearance for grants. For example, administrative-type errors in applications should not invoke EU penalties, Warsaw's paper says, while countries that perform well in administering EU funds should receive a reward to the tune of five percent of the value of the programmes in question.

The EU debate on the 2014 to 2020 budget will get under way after 21 or 28 September, when the European Commission publishes a reflection paper on spending. It will gather steam when the commission puts forward its formal 2014 to 2020 proposal in April 2011 and is expected to last until late 2013.

The countries which put the most into the budget - Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain - are the biggest players.

But Poland is in a good position to shape talks because it begins its EU presidency shortly after the April 2011 proposal and because of friendly relations between the Polish EU budget commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski, and Poland's centre-right Civic Platform government.

Sources in the commission and the Council said the Polish cohesion strategy is entirely predictable given its interest in keeping funds flowing.

One contact noted there is a danger that the bogeyman of "renationalisation of regional development" - the theory that each EU country should look after its own poor instead of creating a joint pot - could raise its head in the EU budget talks due to the politically painful austerity measures coming into effect across the union.

The Cohesion Policy could also "become a pawn on a giant chess board" in which rich EU states bargain with the commission by saying they will put more money into the EU coffers if less of it goes into cohesion and more of it trickles back to themselves through other budget lines.

The EU official said the Cohesion Policy is highly valued in Brussels because it touches "the spirit and purpose of the EU."

"It is simplistic and misleading to say: 'Why should Germany pay for some Polish region to get richer?' If people in, say, Lodz [a Polish city] become more prosperous, they buy German cars, it creates new markets for German companies."

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

Greek austerity violated right to health, says watchdog

Cuts in the Greek health care system, following the austerity cuts demanded in return for international bailouts, have violated the European Social Charter on the right to health, says Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic.

Analysis

Salvini is gambling with core voters' future in budget battle

Businesses in northern Italy are anxiously watching the standoff between the European Commission and the Italian government. They used to be the 'Northern League's' most important electorate - but the party's profile and priorities have changed.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us