On 14 October 2020, Polish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Krzysztof Jurgiel of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, raised a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The Polish Government is planning to launch the Operational Programme Eastern Europe under the Partnership Agreement. The reasons for this are the degradation of industrial plants in small towns, the gradual reduction in domestic demand, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which have slowed down the development of small towns. The idea of revitalising the market functions of small towns and cities, together with the creation of the necessary economic and social infrastructure and broad support (advisory, financial and training) for local businesses, is therefore essential to helping small towns and giving them a chance to develop.
The revitalisation of small towns and cities is the key to the renewal of local communities, the increase in demand for local products, and the reconstruction of the local economy on the basis of sustainable development. Current and future generations of people from small towns and cities deserve the chance to enjoy a lasting improvement in their quality of life. A programme to revive small towns and cities was implemented in Europe in the 1960s under the Structural Funds.
I believe that the development and implementation of the programme for the economic revival and renewal of small towns and cities should be a priority action.
Under the new cohesion policy for 2021-2027, will the Commission support the creation of programmes to revitalise small towns and cities under the Operational Programme Eastern Europe?”
On 8 January 2021, Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating:
“The Commission acknowledges that regions of Eastern Poland still have a considerable amount of catching-up to do (all have around 50% of the EU average per capita gross domestic product), and that an adequate level of support from Cohesion Policy funds for the Eastern Polish regions should be ensured in the next programing period. A future Eastern Poland programme proposed by the Polish authorities is still under discussion between the Polish authorities and the Commission.
Annex D of the 2019 European Semester Country Report provides the basis for the dialogue between Poland and the Commission services in view of the programming of Cohesion Policy funds in 2021-2027. The Commission recommended that the planned investments should foster the integrated development in urban and rural areas; to strengthen administrative capacity of local authorities through integrated territorial investments, community-led local initiatives and in particular to accelerate socioeconomic regeneration of declining areas, particularly in small and medium cities.
The Commission welcomes the Polish authorities’ plans to focus part of future Cohesion Policy resources on deprived areas including small and medium-sized towns in decline, through the funding from the regional programmes and the relevant national programmes. This is in line with the EU goals of economic, social and territorial cohesion and with aiming at a better strategic coordination of programmes intervening in the same sector or geographical area. The support to small and medium-sized towns in decline could be channelled inter alia through territorial tools, such as integrated territorial investments and community led local development.”
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