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Public aid on the national level - Operational Programs 2007-2012

Infrastructure and Environment Operational Program: the largest share of the capital is allocated for improvement of infrastructure – equally the transport, environmental and energy infrastructures. EU funds can be used for the improvement of water quality, construction of modern rubbish dumps and for the building of a flood prevention infrastructure. The Brussels capital may also be used for ecologically friendly activities.

Innovative Economy Operational Program
: from the IE OP, Poland receives EU support in such areas as R&D and the development of exports.  The anticipated results will be scientific laboratories of the highest standards that work in cooperation with business, ultra modern technology among firms, aviation industry, and numerous workplaces for programmers and biotechnologists.  Support under IE OP will be provided to firms, business institutions and scientific entities cooperating with business, which are carrying out program in Poland on a nationwide or even global level. The IE OP is divided and prioritized in a particular way describing the principles for granting the EU funds. The priorities support scientific research, the modernization of the educational structure, the broad sphere of innovation in business, promotion of the Polish economy and tourism, services to foreign investors

Human Capital Operational Program: HC OP is a plan running to 2015, for the expenditure of EU funds for investments in human resources. It embraces the financing of training for the unemployed, raising qualifications for those in work, modernization of the educational system, reducing barriers related to finding work, raising the effectiveness of public administration and supporting innovative faculties in higher education. The concept of the program was to create an educational system, which would ensure training in the professions and trades that are needed for the labour market.

Public aid on the regional level – Małopolska Regional Operational Program
(MROP) 2007-2012

European regional development fund that is guaranteed in the Małopolska Regional Operational Program 2007-2013 will be used to investments in such fields as: information society, enterprise, tourism, culture, regional infrastructure in terms of transport and roads, Krakow Metropolitan Area, health care, development of Małopolska cities and villages, environment, interregional cooperation.

Examples of measures:

  1. Priority 2: Regional Economy
    • Programme 2.1: Development and strengthening of enterprises’ competitiveness
    • Programme 2.2: Commercialized scientific research support
  2. Priority 4: Infrastructure for economic development
    • Programme 4.1: Road infrastructure development
    • Programme 4.2: Increase of public transport role in the region
    • Programme 4.3: Creation and development of economic activity zones
  3. Priority 4: Infrastructure for economic development
    • Priority 5: Krakow Metropolitan Area
    • Programme 5.1: Krakow Metropolitan Area as an important place for European scientific research
    • Programme 5.2: Development of metropolitan functions by Krakow Metropolitan Area
    • Programme 5.3: Development of integrated metropolitan transport

Example 1
Priority 2: Regional Economy
Programme 2.1    Development and strengthening of enterprises’ competitiveness

The type of a project (eligible costs)    Enterprise development or its purchase

  • A change in a production or a change in a production process
  • A change in the final product or in the offered service
  • Modernization of production equipment
  • New technologies (environment protection) 

Beneficiary    cash grant value (min / max)
Micro enterprise (< 10 of employed…)1)     min 20 000. – max 200 000 PLN
up to 45% of expenses
Small enterprise (< 50 of employed…)     Min 100 000 – max 1 000 000 PLN
up to 45% of expenses
Medium enterprise (< 250 of employed...)     min 200 000. – max 2 000 000 PLN
up to 35% of expenses

1)    Definition of micro, small and medium enterprise according to the EU standards

Example 2
Priority 2: Regional Economy
Programme 2.2    Commercialized scientific research support

The type of a project (eligible costs)    1. Research projects:

  • Research carried by R&D entities that cooperate with enterprises
  • Not commercialy viable research carried in enterprises by R&D entities

Beneficiary    cash grant value
R&D centres    Maximum cash grant value: 400 000 PLN
The maximum share of EU fund: up to 80% of the investment cost
Maksymalny udział środków UE: 80%
The type of a project (eligible costs)    2. Investment project in the R&D field  

  •  Investments of R&D entities (purchase, fitting) in tangible assets (infrastructure, equipment )

Beneficiary    cash grant value
Micro and small enterprises    Maximum cash grant value: 400 000 PLN
The maximum share of EU fund: up to 80% of the investment cost
Medium enterprise    Maximum cash grant value: 400 000 PLN
The maximum share of EU fund: up to 60% of the investment cost

How is the European funds implementation system organised in Poland?

Programmes describing who can be awarded a subsidy and for what, were developed in order to enable the use of ERDF, ESF and CF resources. The Operational Programmes (OP) are drawn up on the basis of the Community Strategic Guidelines and NSRF. Currently, all the objectives covered by the NCS will be implemented by defined financing programmes, which are:

Operational Programme - Infrastructure and Environment (IaE OP)

Financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund.

Considering the scale of needs both as regards transport, the environment and other types of infrastructure, 41.9% of the total of the Structural Funds have been earmarked for this programme under the NSFR.

The IaE OP supports key investment aimed to sustain and improve the condition of the environment. Environmental issues connected with balanced development will also have a major importance due to two streams of investment in the energy sector:

  1. Necessary investment in the diversification of traditional energy sources to be achieved using market mechanisms.
  2. Investing in renewable energy, reducing demand for energy and otherwise environment-friendly projects. Investment of key supra-regional importance concerning the social infrastructure (health care, culture, higher education) will be complementary to these areas.


The expected values of indicators of expenditure on the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy goals will be reached by concentrating the Community funding on the activities for the conformity of the national transport system with the European system, mainly the development of the transport infrastructure of transnational outreach with respect to the principles of balanced development.

IaE OP contains 15 prioritites:

  1. Water and sewage management
  2. Waste management and the protection of earth
  3. Resource management and counteracting environmental risks
  4. Initiatives aimed at adjusting enterprises to the requirements of environment protection
  5. Environment protection and promotion of ecological habits
  6. Ten-t road and air transport network
  7. Environment-friendly transport
  8. Transport safety and national transport networks
  9. Environment-friendly energy infrastructure and energy efficiency
  10. Energy security, including diversification of the energy sources
  11. Culture and cultural heritage
  12. Health security and improving the efficiency of the healthcare system
  13. Infrastructure of higher education
  14. Technical assistance – european regional development fund
  15. Technical assistance – cohesion fund

Operational Programme - Human Capital (HC OP)

Financed from the European Social Fund (ESF).

In view of the scale of social problems, 14.6% of the structural measures will be allocated to implement of projects, which has been co-financed by the European Social Fund recently. A substantial part of these funds under that program will be focused on implementation of the Lisbon Strategy goals.

The program will be concentrated on supporting following areas: employment, education, social inclusion, development of the adaptability: workers and enterprises as well as issues connected with development of human resources in rural areas, creating an efficient and effective public administration at all levels, implementing of a good governance principle and health promotion in the human resources.

The overall goal of the program is enable to full usage of the human resources potential through increasing employment and adaptability of the enterprises and employees, raising the level of education in society, reducing areas of social exclusion and supporting in development of the state administrative structures.

The combination of all areas supported by the ESF and resources concentrated on one program consisting of two main components: central and regional, resulting from the need to ensure of the consistent system for the ESF implementation in Poland. The establishment of a single Managing Authority will facilitate monitoring of the program implementation, while at the same time providing for an immediate response should any problems in its implementation arise.

HC OP contains 5 priorities implemented at the central level:

  1. Employment and social integration
  2. Development of human resources and adaptation potential of enterprises and improving the health condition of working persons
  3. High quality of the educational system
  4. Tertiary education and science
  5. Good governance

    HC OP contains 4 priorities implemented at the regional level:

  7. The labour market open for all
  8. Promotion of social integration
  9. Regional human resources for the economy
  10. Development of education and competences in the regions
  11. Technical assistance



Operational Programme - Innovative Economy (IE OP)

Financed from the EFRD.

12.4% of the total of the Structural Funds will be allocated to the IE OP.

It is assumed that the highest values of performance indicators of the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy goals will be reached under this programme. The focus of the IE OP is to increase the number of innovations by increasing R&D outlays , the development of cooperation between the B&R sphere and businesses, as well as dynamising the entrepreneurship potential. The investment should be responsive to the needs of the Community market.

The programme supports innovativeness at least at national level. Innovativeness at local or regional levels will be supported and promoted through Regional Operational Programmes.

The main goal of the innovative economy Operational Programme is the development of the Polish economy based on innovative enterprises. The Programme’s detailed objectives include: increasing the innovativeness of enterprises, enhancing the competitiveness of Polish science, creating sustainable and better jobs and increasing the use of ICT in the economy.

IE OP contains 9 prioritites:

  1. Research and development of new technologies
  2. R&D infrastructure
  3. Capital for innovation
  4. Investments in innovative undertakings
  5. Diffusion of innovation
  6. Polish economy on the international market
  7. Information society – establishment of electronic administration
  8. Information society – increase of innovativeness of economy
  9. Technical assistance

Operational Programme - Development of Eastern Poland (EPD OP)

Financed from the ERDF.

The reason for the development of this programme was that additional funding was awarded from the European Regional Development Fund for the five most disadvantaged regions: Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie and Warmińsko-Mazurskie. These voivodships are characterised by the low living standards of their residents, a low dynamic of their economic development, poorly developed and inadequate transport infrastructure and insufficient growth factors.

The outreach of the OP EPD covers the areas of intervention of other programmes but it differs in that its scope is restricted to selected areas which, because of the scale of activities and the expected long-term results, may have a special impact on the development processes. This programme is an additional element of support under the structural funds which will enhance the actions of other programmes on the territory of Eastern Poland.

The Objective of Operational Programme Development of Eastern Poland is: ”Hastening the pace of social and economic development in Eastern Poland pursuant  to the sustainable development principle”.

The main objective of the Programme will be achieved through implementation of specific objectives, and namely:

  • Stimulating development of knowledge based competitive economy,
  • Improving access to broadband Internet in Eastern Poland,
  • Development of selected metropolitan functions of voivodship cities,
  • Improving accessibility and standard of transport links in voivodships of Eastern Poland,
  • Enhancing the role of sustainable tourism in the economic development of the macroregion,
  • Optimising the implementation process of OP Development of Eastern Poland.

OP EPD contains six priority axes:

I: Modern Economy
II: Infrastructure of the information society
III: Voivodship growth centres
IV: Transport infrastructure
V: Sustainable development of tourist potential based on natural conditions
VI: Technical Assistance

Regional Operational Programmes

Nearly one fourth of the budget (24.9%) is allocated for the investment into the development of regions.

The justification for the preparation of the 16 ROPs is the decentralisation of the programming of regional development, an increased effectiveness of the provision development activities by the public administration, the strengthening of the civic and self-government dimension as well as the effective use of the structural measures for the period 2004-2006 by regions under the IROP.

The objectives of the ROPs are on the one hand set by voivodeships in compliance with regional development strategies, while on the other hand they are also inscribed in such NSFR goals as enhanced competitiveness of individual regions and the promotion of balanced development.

All ROPs have a similar structure, but their contents and financial resources are specified at regional level. The need to harmonise the list of activities implemented under regional programmes results from a number of premises, of which the most important is to ensure the consistency between the regional approach and goals and priorities of the national and European strategies, as well as taking into account activities concerning state aid for the SMEs sector (uniform criteria for the granting of aid will be laid down at national level).

Maximum 3% of ERDF allocations per each of the 16 ROPs may be used for housing projects which meet the requirements laid down in the relevant regulations. These activities are complementary to ROP projects regarding urban areas threatened with degradation and social exclusion. Such solutions, despite being planned and implemented at regional level, will be form a component of activities connected with the improvement of the housing situation contained in the state policy with regard to housing.

European Territorial Co-operation (ETC)

The European Territorial Co-operation covers many Programmes, which can award funds to a wide variety of projects. The assumptions of the European Territorial Co-operation are implemented by means of three types of programmes:

  • cross-border co-operation programmes,
  • transnational co-operation programmes,
  • international co-operation programmes.

Cross-border co-operation programmes for 2007-2013:

  • Poland (Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship) – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern/Brandenburg,
  • Poland (Lubuskie Voivodeship) – Brandenburg,
  • Poland – Sachsen,
  • Poland - the Czech Republic,
  • Poland – Slovakia,
  • Poland – Lithuania,
  • South Baltic.

Under the above-mentioned Programmes you and your partner from a defined country or region, can jointly implement common local and regional initiatives. Each of these Programmes can be participated by local or regional authorities, institutions, organisations and other entities, which are located within the border area of a given country – before submitting a project to be implemented under this Programme check whether the area on which you wish to implement your project belongs to the area covered by the Programme.

The projects can vary, but they are always about joint implementation together with another institution or local or regional authority from the other side of the border. The so-called cross-border effect is significant for these projects. This means that your idea must have an influence on and bring profits to both Poland, as well as the other country – country of Your partner’s origin. Remember – you can have many partners, but they all must be from the area covered by the Programme.

Transnational co-operation programmes for 2007-2013:

  • The Baltic Sea Programme – apart from Poland the programme is participated by: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany (selected regions), Sweden and 3 non-European Union states: Belarus (selected regions), Norway and the Russian Federation (selected regions),
  • Central Europe – apart from Poland the programme is participated by: Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany (selected regions), Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy (selected regions), Ukraine (selected regions).

Under the above-mentioned Programmes you and your defined foreign partner, can implement larger projects concerning e.g. environmental protection, regeneration of destroyed and neglected cities or promotion of economic development. The implemented projects are most commonly of non-investment character. They, inter alia, consist in developing and implementing strategies, preparing documents necessary to implement investments of supranational significance, drawing-up concepts of novel solutions within the area of transport, cities development, natural and cultural heritage protection, establishing co-operation networks, exchanging of experiences.

The projects must involve at least three financing partners form three different countries, where at least two are European Union member states situated within the area of Baltic Sea or Central Europe Programme.

International co-operation programmes for 2007-2013:

The territorial scope of the INTERREG IV C Programme covers 27 European Union member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland.

Under the Programmes you can implement larger projects concerning environmental protection, exchange of knowledge within the scope of support for innovation and economy based on knowledge.
The projects implemented under INTERREG IV C Programme should be participated by entities representing at least three countries, including at least two partners form European Union member states. The recommended number of partners engaged in the project is closely related to the intensity and nature of the planned co-operation.

Your project should be related to:

  • innovation, research and technology development, entrepreneurship, the information society, employment and qualifications.
  • environment and risk prevention, and in particular, issues involved in natural and technological risks, water management, waste management, biodiversity and preservation of natural heritage, energy, sustainable transport, cultural heritage and landscape.

Remember that within the frameworks of European Territorial Co-operation Programmes there is a rule, which states that the partners designate among each other the leading partner (beneficiary). The partner is responsible for proper implementation of the whole project. The leading partner is also responsible for co-ordination of project preparations and for submitting the application on behalf of all partners. Moreover, after the application is approved the leading partner signs an agreement with the Programme Managing Authority, governs the project implementation, and is responsible for drawing up reports and applications for payment. The funds for all partners are transferred to the account of the leading partner.

European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI)

Two cross-border co-operation programmes implemented in partnership with non-European Union states under European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) are also aimed at achieving objectives similar to the assumptions of the European Territorial Co-operation.

  • Poland – Lithuania – Russian Federation,
  • Poland – Belarus – Ukraine.
    Co-operation under ENPI within the scope of implemented projects covers two partners – one must be from a European Union member state and one from a partnership country.

Remember that within the frameworks of European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument there is a rule, which states that the partners designate among each other the leading partner (beneficiary). The partner is responsible for proper implementation of the whole project. The leading partner is also responsible for co-ordination of project preparations and for submitting the application on behalf of all partners. Moreover, after the application is approved the leading partner signs an agreement with the Programme Managing Authority, governs the project implementation, and is responsible for drawing up reports and applications for payment. The funds for all partners are transferred to the account of the leading partner.

The Operational Programme Development of Eastern Poland (OP DEP) is implemented within the area of five voivodeships in Eastern Poland: warmińsko-mazurskie, podlaskie, lubelskie, podkarpackie and świętokrzyskie. The area is less developed than other parts of the country, hence it needs additional support from the EU funds.

The main objective of the project is “Hastening the pace of social and economic development in Eastern Poland in conformity to the sustainable development principle”, which implies assistance for Eastern Poland voivodeships in more rapid achievement of the development level of other voivodeships in other parts of Poland, without the negative impact on the natural environment.

The objective is implemented via modernisation of many of fields of socioeconomic life in Eastern Poland (inter alia, education, economy, communication), creation of new jobs, improved operation of large urban areas, modernisation of the roads network, improvement of the image of Eastern Poland and increasing the investment attractiveness of this part of Poland.

Projects of key significance for the socioeconomic development of all voivodeships in Eastern Poland are implemented under the OP DEP. The financed investments cover primarily investments within the scope of roads, infrastructure supporting scientific and research activity, as well as providing for modernisation of municipal or regional communication systems. The implemented projects cover also projects increasing the touristic attractiveness of a given area (a network of bicycle routes, projects of economic and touristic promotion of the Region) and ensuring access to Internet to as wide a number of inhabitants of Easter Poland as it is possible (the broadband network in Eastern Poland). The majority of projects implemented under OP DEP are individual projects.

The Technical Assistance Operational Programme (TA OP)

Technical Assistance Operational Programme (TOAP) is one of five operational  programmes on national level in Poland, financed from European Regional Development Found. The main objective of TAOP is to ensure efficient and effective course of implementation of European Funds in Poland in 2007-2013. The Programme provides financial resources for the operations of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF – implementation system of European Funds in Poland in 2007-2013) which include: preparation, management, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, control system, support of preparations of individual key projects and information and publicity of European Funds.

TOAP consists of 4 Priorities:

Priority 1. Support of human resources
Priority 2. IT support in the NSRF implementation
Priority 3. Support of  the structural funds operations implementation
Priority 4. Communication and promotion

Beneficiaries of TAOP include government administration units (Ministry of Regional Development, Ministry of Finance and other central offices) involved in the UE Funds implementation system in Poland.  Among them e.g.:  Coordinating Authority for NSRF, Managing Authorities for Operational Programmes implemented on national level, Implementing Authorities (2nd-level Intermediate Bodies) within public administration Audit Authority, Certifying Authority, Intermediate Bodies in Certification, Operator of the national computer system supporting the NSRF/CSF implementation, Unit responsible for information and publicity of NSRF, Tax Inspection Offices, Public Procurement Office, Office for Competition and Consumer Protection.

Total costs 607 882 353  EUR (European Union contribution - ERDF - 516 700 000 EUR, National public contribution 91 182 353 EUR).


About European Funds

 Resources from the European Union budget – where do they come from and what are they for?

The European Union resources are collected by member states and transferred to the EU budget. Most commonly these resources come from the following sources:

duties that are charged on imports of products coming from a non-EU states (so-called EU traditional own resources (TOR));

  • VAT revenue (value added tax) – it is an established percentage rate that each member state has to pay to the EU in relation to the resources coming from VAT revenue);
  • resource based on national revenue of each member state (each state pays 0.73 % of its gross national product (GNP) to the EU budget).

At the moment it is the largest source of European Union funding

Source: European Commission: Directorate-General for Budget  

In 2007 Poland received EUR 7.8 billion (7.4% of all EU expenditure) from the EU. After paying its contribution, Poland made a net profit of approx. EUR 5.1 billion. To put it in other words, the amount we pay to the EU budget constitutes only ¼ of the amount we receive. Compared to 2006 it is more than double. It is estimated that in the period 2007-2013 Poland will receive from the European Union an overall amount of EUR 87 billion, and it will have to give back to the EU budget EUR 22 billion, which implies that Poland will make a net profit of approx. EUR 65 billion. It is definitely the greatest amount among all EU member states.

Where does the European Union allocate the collected money? First of all, they are allocated to the implementation of Common Agricultural Policy (including fishing and fisheries), as well as cohesion policy. Both these policies are intended to facilitate improvement of European Union competitiveness and exercise a positive impact on development, inter alia, agriculture, culture, infrastructure, education and security. The administrative costs of running European Union institutions and humanitarian and development aid for non-European Union states are also financed from the budget. The following Diagram shows the areas on which the EU funding is spent at the moment. For the first time in the history of the European Union, in the current programming period 2007-2013, the resources for support to competitiveness and cohesion exceed the funds allocated to agriculture and rural development.

Source: European Commission, Directorate-General for budget 

Regional/cohesion/structural policy (explanation of terms)

In relation to EU subsidies one can come across one of the following terms: regional policy, cohesion policy or structural policy. Do they differ among each other? Theoretically, yes. Structural policy is a term traditionally used to denote European Community interventions (and from 1993 onwards – European Union) applied already in 1957. Regional policy is focused on increasing economic and social cohesion within the European Union, which means that its basic task consists in financial assistance for the regions. While, cohesion policy indicates the basic objective of the intervention which is eliminating differences within the Community. However, in practice these terms are used interchangeably. Following the above one can assume that the European Union regional policy, structural policy and cohesion policy all have the same objective – levelling economic differences among European Union regions and, in consequence, among its inhabitants.

Rules of regional policy

The partnership principle and additionality principle (also known as co-financing principle or complementarity principle) are the two major principles of European Union regional policy.

  • The partnership principle is based on an assumption that all interested social partners are involved in both the programming and implementation stage. This requires co-operation between the European Commission and relevant public authorities of a given country at the national, regional and local level (i.e. gminas, poviats and voivodeships), as well as co-operation with economic and social partners.
  • Additionality (complementarity) principle means that the European Union funds should supplement financial resources of individual member states, and not replace them. The European Union measures are not aimed at driving out and replacing the measures undertaken at national and regional level, but they should enrich and reinforce them.

Other regional policy principles include: subsidiarity principle, concentrations principle, programming principle and co-ordination principle.

  • The subsidiarity principle means that all the measures should be undertaken at possibly the lowest administrative level able to implement them within the frameworks of a given region or a member state. The European Union institutions can implement established tasks only when regions or member states are unable to implement them efficiently and independently.
  • The concentrations principle consists in limiting support from EU funds only to measures of fundamental significance to the socioeconomic cohesion of the European Union. It implies, for example, support for least favoured regions. From the horizontal perspective, the principle also means that the funds intervention in order to be effective should not be scattered, but it should be concentrated at few precisely defined objectives, therefore the European Union financial assistance is directed at a small number of precisely defined objectives and projects.
  • The programming principle means that the European Union institutions control and monitor the use of funds, and they ensure that the process is in compliance with general Community policies and detailed European Commission guidelines. In line with this principle, the regional authorities must develop among each other formal agreement procedures in order to define and implement the regional development strategies. It should be remembered that the regional policy aims at long-term solutions for problems in a given region, and not at implementing individual short-term programmes.
  • The co-ordination principle regulates the operation of structural funds. It aims at efforts to focus regional policy measures and resources at priorities of fundamental significance to the socioeconomic cohesion of the European Union. The aforementioned principle is manifested in actions undertaken by the Commission which are targeted at allocating the resources from the Structural Funds to a limited number of regions affected by the most serious problems and selected on a basis of relevant criteria.

Subsidies – an element of the cohesion policy (+ an obligation to make a national contribution)

It should be noted that a subsidy, which can be awarded to an entrepreneur, gmina, NGO, etc., is not wholly financed from the European Union resources, but it is partly financed from national resources. The above is in line with one of the cohesion policy principles, mainly the additionality principle. The maximum financing for a project which can be granted from the EU funds amounts to 85%. It the previous years it was 75%.


  2004-2006 2007-2013



EU funds (75%) EU funds (85%)
national funds (25%) national funds (15%)