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EU gives green light to projects in Poland: commissioner

The European Commission has approved development projects targeted for Poland's poorer eastern regions, some of the most economically disadvantaged in the entire 27 member bloc, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner announced Tuesday in Warsaw.

Herself a Polish citizen, Hubner also pointed out the EU has slated a massive €67.3 billion ($95.2 billion) for economic development in Poland between 2007 and 2013, making the 2004 EU entrant the greatest beneficiary during the period. Yet just last week another senior EU official warned Poland has failed to take advantage of existing funds to improve its derelict highway network and could lose billions. EU Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite singled out Poland as one of the worst offenders in failing to absorb funds and said it was solely up to national governments to spend the money at their disposal rapidly and efficiently. “Don’t look for excuses, because there will be no excuses. If Poland isn’t able (to spend the money), then Poland loses out,” Grybauskaite warned.

Poland has spent 57%, or €4.87 billion, of the total available funds for regional development this year, but only 16% or some €677 million ($958 million) in so-called cohesion funds slated for use by the central government for investment in public infrastructure, according to official statistics. The apparent failure to absorb much-needed EU funding has oddly enough not become a make-or-brake issue in the ongoing campaign ahead of the Poland’s October 21 snap general election. (m&