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The role of EU funds in Poland’s regional and local development in light of international experiences

Time period: 2018-2021
Financing: National Science Centre
EUROREG research team: Grzegorz Gorzelak

The objectives of this interdisciplinary research project respond to these theoretical and policy-oriented challenges. The main  objective is to measure the impact of EU funding on Poland’s regional and local development. The study aims to address the three fundamental questions:

1. How do the EU funds affect the differences in the development level of  Polish territorial systems in various spatial scales (voivodships, NUTS3, counties, municipalities)?

2. What are the interrelationships between the socio-economic characteristics of territorial units, the volume and structure of their expenditures involving EU funds and the structure and dynamics of development processes taking place in them

3. What endogenous conditions should be fulfilled by the territorial systems for the EU funds spent within them to boost their socio-economic growth?

The following research hypotheses will be tested:

Both territorial convergence and divergence processes are visible in Poland. They assume different values depending on the scale of the territorial units concerned and the categories employed to measure these values, and have various underlying causes:

The effects of EU funds absorption in the territorial systems so far are mostly short term and based on demand effects, due to the decreasing demand multipliers. In contrast, supply effects are still weak and do not spur economic development.

The effectiveness of EU financial assistance in stimulating sustainable development in the territorial systems depends on endogenous factors.

Research will be conducted with the use of standard statistical and econometric methods, such as measures of differentiation and entropy, correlation and regression analysis, principal component analysis and taxonomic methods. Sociological methodology will be used for CAWI surveys and in-depth analyses of case studies aiming at investigating institutional capacity of the local governments and multiplier effects of funds transferred to the municipalities under study.

The result of the research in epistemological terms will be the verification of the research hypotheses, which should offer a significant contribution to the theory of regional and local development owing to a structured and comprehensive identification of the relationships between the contextual, endogenous development factors and the effects of the influx of external funding, which is governed by specific objectives and implementation procedures. The research findings will deepen and expand the knowledge gained so far on the interrelationships between endo- and exogenous factors of regional and local. It will verify the theory according to which the favourable consequences for growth may occur in the form of trickle-down effects which will not appear if receiving assistance is not accompanied by parallel efforts on the ground, including e.g. progressive changes in the social and economic structures. This issue, one of the crucial problems of regional development theory, is also of cardinal importance for regional policy.

Thus, the results of research will make a substantial contribution to the seam of research focusing on the fundamental issues of regional development and regional policy, especially in the part governed by the priorities of the Cohesion Policy and Common Agricultural Policy financed from these schemes.  The results will also contribute to the reforms of the Cohesion Policy and Common Agricultural Policy and their implementations in the EU Member States, especially in Poland, its regions and localities.