Cohesion funding may be used to fight coronavirus: EP

The European Parliament approved a proposal by the European Commission, the EU's executive body, allowing EU member states to use some of their cohesion funds, aimed at removing the development differences across the EU, to fight the coronavirus epidemic.

“The EU has given Warsaw the green light to use a part of the cohesion funds - up to EUR 7.4 bn for fighting the coronavirus epidemic, but the money has already been allocated to Poland, albeit for different purposes,” Michal Dworczyk, head of the PM's Office, said on TVP on Friday.

The EU did not give the bloc's member states any new money, but only increased the flexibility of use of the already allocated EU funds, according to the spokesman.

In the case of Poland, the amount is around EUR 7.4 bln, the country's Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy announced in mid-March.

Cohesion funds money is available for member states whose income per inhabitant is less than 90 percent of the EU average.

The funds are normally earmarked to fund infrastructural development projects- such as the building of rail and roads, as well as assisting in the greening of the energy infrastructure. No indication was given of how much of the funding would actually be redirected or whether this would impact on any large projects planned for this budgeting period.

Independently of the European funding, the Polish government has so far promised a package including PLN 60 bn (EUR 13.25 bn) of funding and PLN 30 bn (EUR 6.6 bn) of guarantees to assist the economy to stave off the effects of the slowdown caused by the lockdown to deal with the coronavirus.