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Spatial Distribution of EU Structural Funds in Poland in 2004-2006 - Factors, Directions, and Limitations
In 2004, Poland joined the European Union. This access means the possibility of taking advantage of European Union Structural Funds. Apart from this the structural funds play another important role. The popularity of the idea of European integration in countries like Poland depends largely on the effectiveness of this financial support, which theoretically should lead to economic and social development on different levels (local, regional, national, and even continental). The main problem of relying on EU funds is their unequal availability, which is limited, for example, because of the granting principles.
The European Union gives universities an important place to participate in research and development in the country. The basic research and teaching process of higher education institutions is gradually becoming more and more scientific, and the importance of science and research is growing. Th e growing importance of R&D for universities also increases the importance of public support in this area. Slovakia was eligible for support from the structural funds by joining the EU. In the period 2007 - 2013, universities have had the highest increase in science and research spending due to the use of these resources. However, it is a question of the extent to which this form of public support has contributed to the field of research and development of higher education institutions and whether there has been a real increase in their research and development activities. We examine the effectiveness of the support granted to public universities from the European Union Structural Funds on the basis of measurable indicators of granted projects and the impact of outputs on their scientific research potential in the regions of Slovakia. The results of the analysis highlighted the high level of public support for university infrastructure projects at the expense of support with a focus on intellectual property creation and patents. The discussion is focused on whether the funds allocated in this way were effective in relation to the objectives of the Operational Program Research and Development 2007 - 2013 and thus contributed to an increase of scientific and research potential at higher education institutions in the regions in Slovakia.
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The aim of this paper is twofold. First, the smart growth concept is examined with a focus on challenges associated with applying this concept in the less developed regions. Second, the impact of EU structural funds on smart growth in Poland is analyzed at the regional level with a view to contributing to the debate on public intervention in this area. The research questions are as follows: “Is the concept of smart growth, as postulated by the European Union, well suited to the less developed regions?” and “Whether and to what extent do EU funds contribute to achieving smart growth in Poland?”
Smart growth has accelerated after 2007, which could suggest a significant impact of EU structural funds, whose allocation to measures supporting innovative activity rose markedly after 2007. However, among the various factors influencing regional development processes, the impact of structural funds was not as strong as might be expected, which was confirmed by further analysis.
The issue of how to stimulate economic growth and development remains an open question. The EU structural funds are meant to help solve the problem at the regional level within the framework of the cohesion policy. Only some of these funds are used to directly subsidize businesses that are the engines of growth in a market economy.
This paper aims to evaluate whether structural funds have played a positive and significant role in the development of enterprises in a region which does not belong to the economic leaders in Poland. It is based on the results of a direct study, statistical data and evaluation reports, as well as on the economic literature.
The direct study was conducted in 2011. It focused on micro-economic projects supported by EU funds in the Lodz region. Interviews were conducted with representatives of 80 enterprises, which had completed at least one such a project. We conclude that the subsidies from structural funds have positively stimulated the modernization of the companies, albeit on a limited scale.