Poland has not lost a single euro in EU's 2007-13 budget - minister

We have not lost a single euro of the 2007-2013 EU budget, Polish Investment and Development Minister Jerzy Kwieciński said on Monday, adding that many countries including Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy had to repay several hundred million euros to Brussels.

"The last money dedicated to the Mazowieckie province has just come into Poland, which means that from the EU budget for the previous financing period we have received almost EUR 3.4 billion," the minister stated. He pointed out that it had not been easy to rescue EU money from being returned to Brussels and that Poland had had to pay out about PLN 30 billion (EUR 6.9 billion) in so-called own contributions over a month and a half.

Kwieciński noted that in terms of using EU cohesion funds, Poland is a leader because the Czech Republic had to return EUR 950 million, Germany EUR 337 million, Great Britain EUR 238 million and Spain EUR 227 million. He also drew attention to the fact that the settlement process was accelerated in Poland: settlement within the framework of the second period lasted less than two years, while in the case of the first period it was eight years.

Asked about the current funding period, Kwieciński stated that the pace of carrying out operational programmes in the regions had accelerated and "not a euro was lost on the regions last year." He added, however, that this year some local governments might also have a problem with settling funds. The greatest difficulty in conducting the 'n plus three' principle (beneficiaries have three years to carry out and settle projects and operational programmes - PAP) will be experienced by the Kujawsko-Pomorskie (northern Poland), Warmińsko-Mazurskie (north-eastern Poland) and Podlaskie (eastern Poland) provinces.

When it comes to negotiations concerning the future EU budget, after 2021, the minister explained that discussions are currently ongoing on the shape of the regulations for EU funding, of which "some have already been negotiated with the member states and are now going to the European Parliament." He added, however, that the chances are low that something will be negotiated in the first half of this year. What is more, he noted, it may take until the end of the year because of "the elections and then the setting up of the European Parliament and the European Commission."

Asked whether there was a possibility the budget for cohesion policy would be greater in the future EU budget than that which was proposed by the EC in May last year, the minister indicated that, "certainly there is a chance, but it will depend on the net-contributing countries, who have to agree on a similar division of financing as in the previous financial perspective."