OECD Territorial Reviews: Poland 2008

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: Poland 2008

Although Poland has managed to maintain high growth levels since the mid-1990s, with the second-best performance in the OECD in 2006-07, territorial disparities are persistent and rising, especially between large urban areas and rural ones. Like many OECD countries, Poland must seek to achieve an appropriate balance between support for poles of growth and the development of lagging regions, particularly its eastern peripheral regions, which are among the poorest in the European Union. This report explores the various challenges and opportunities for Polish regional development policy, and provides recommendations to best design and implement the policy mix, looking in particular at governance challenges.

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Assessing Policies for Regional Development

High growth, foreign capital attractiveness as well as support from EU funds (EUR 67 billion from the cohesion policy) give Poland a unique opportunity to tackle the regional development challenge, and focus on the untapped potential of poles of growth and lagging regions. The broad policy-mix for regional development that Poland has developed since 2004 is well balanced – toward infrastructure investment and competitiveness objectives – and targets Lisbon objectives (i.e. growth objectives) as a key priority for 2007-13 (with more than 64% of the EU funding). As in many other OECD countries, regional policy in Poland has increasingly shifted towards boosting regions’ competitiveness by focusing on intangible assets such as human capital. The learning process in Poland has been rapid, as regional policy has mainly developed after the creation of regions in 1999 and the accession to the EU in 2004. Although regional policy in Poland targets the right challenges and has made substantial progress in terms of institutional co-ordination, progress is yet to be made to tailor the policy mix to each region’s specific needs, both at the central and regional levels. Besides, challenges related to prioritisation of public investment, short timeframe to absorb the funds and multi-level governance will be determinant to best implement the policy-mix. Chapter 2 analyses the policy-mix for regional development introduced in Poland and the challenges that remain. Four main policy issues are analysed: i) infrastructure policy, in particular transport policy and spatial planning; ii) human capital and innovation; iii) rural development policy; iv) Eastern Poland development and cross-border policies.

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