Lack of European funds means lower GDP, higher unemployment and less investment. And that's not the biggest threat yet, arising from the Warsaw-Brussels conflict and the risk of loss 75 billion euros of EU funds.
Disturbing reports about the risk of Poland being cut off not only from the frozen KPO, but also of EU cohesion funds, Bloomberg reported last week.
“Polish access to 75 billion euros is at risk in a dispute over the judiciary” the agency wrote, pointing, that on the path of Mateusz Morawiecki's government to this money there are changes in the judiciary, which are suspended after President Andrzej Duda submitted an application to the Constitutional Tribunal. And even on Friday, 24 brand, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki assured, that “there is no problem with payments from the Cohesion Fund” and advance payments were made to Poland, remembering the assurances of the head of the government about this, that KPO is already at your fingertips, we decided to take a look at it, which would mean a possible lack of EU funds for Poland.
First, a bit of history. From the report “Where are the jams really?” prepared in 2021 r. for the Polish Foundation. R. Schuman and the Adenauer Foundation follows, that our country's membership in the EU ensured more than half of the total GDP growth after 2003 r. On average, it was 3,6 proc. i 1,6-2,1 percentage points. ensured access to the single market. The inflow of EU funds added to the year 0,3-0,5 percentage points.
EU funds also helped to make up for the gap between the wealth of Polish regions and the EU average. According to “Annual Regional Report 2021” published in 2022 r. by MFPiR on the occasion of the start of the new financial perspective (2021-2027, that is this one, from which money may be at risk - ed.), the poorest voivodeships in Poland benefited the most from cohesion funds: Podlaskie, Subcarpathian, Świętokrzyskie, Lublin and Warmian-Masurian Voivodeships. Calculated in purchasing power parity, GDP per capita in eastern Poland in 2020 r. reached 53,4 proc. EU average. Without the support of EU funds, this result would have been merely 48,5 proc.
The described data is already history and an undoubted success. Now is the time to look ahead and see the dark scenario up close, in which EU funds will not go to Poland. The irony of fate is the fact, that the data is provided by the same report prepared inside the government, whose policies have put transfers from Brussels into question.
According to the report, annual value of cohesion funds in years 2023-2029 will be 1,25-2 proc. Polish GDP, the highest index will be in 2023 r., and it will slowly decrease with each successive one.
The possible suspension of transfers to the cohesion policy will also significantly reduce the already poorly performing investments. Same investments, which in the already somewhat dusty Strategy for Responsible Development created by Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki were supposed to be the driving force of the Polish economy.
– Understanding is key, that much more may be at risk than just that 75 billion euros of transfers. EU funds are most often only “leaven” investment. Very often they are associated with additional bank investments or issues, says economist Marek Zuber in an interview with BI Polska..
Polish families will also feel the lack of funds
However, EU money is not only GDP, investments and “big business”. As clearly shown by the Ministry of Funds, it is also a higher standard of everyday life for Poles.
The report says, that the cohesion measures will allow for further reduction of the distance between the wealth of Poles and the EU average, calculated as GDP per capita in purchasing power parity.
“Forecast assumes achievement 80 proc. the EU average already at the turn of the year 2025/2026, a w 2029 r. reaching the level close 84 proc. this average. Without EU funds, it would not have been possible in such a short time” – we read in the report.
It follows from the prepared model, that catching up without funds from the cohesion pool will result, that the distance between Poland and the EU this year would be greater by 4 percentage points. i 3,7 percentage points. w 2024 r.
Finally, the lack of funds from the cohesion policy will increase the unemployment rate, it will lower the employment rate and reduce the real income of Polish families. In terms of purchasing power parity, the funds at the disposal of Polish families without cohesion funds will be approx. 3,3 proc. lower, than if EU money flowed to Poland.
What is important, these predictions, as indicated in the study by the resort, “should be treated as a kind of minimum impact, what EU funds can have on the socio-economic situation in Poland”.
Lost image, which is the greatest threat
The very value of the funds and their possible impact on Polish economic indicators and the standard of living of Poles is one aspect of the risk of losing them.
- The second aspect is this, that EU funds exist “marked”. The way they are issued is clearly defined. It's easy to imagine, that if the decision belonged only to the Polish government, then spending on the digital and knowledge-based economy would be much less, emphasizes Marek Zuber, adding, that the possible lack of EU funds carries another serious threat.
Fact, that from 2004 r. we are in the European Union, greatly reduced the investment risk in our country. If we do not receive these funds, information will go out into the world: Poland is on a collision course with Brussels. This will be a signal for potential investors, that something bad is happening in Poland. If we add to that the war just over our border, this perception of Poland as a place to locate investments will certainly be strongly undermined - warns the economist, recalling, processes are taking place on a global scale, which will result in the decentralization of production and changes in investment directions, what we could gain.
“Perhaps the damage to our image is the greatest threat in the black scenario of lack of cohesion measures,” sums up Marek Zuber.