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Israeli businesses involved in the Hungarian and Polish economies take note, there are new opportunities in these two countries.
The European Commission adopted on September 7 the Hungarian program for 2007-2013. The Commission's decision on the 13 operational programs (OP) funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the two programs funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) open the way for Hungarian regions to start implementing the new policy in the framework of the strategic plan agreed upon between Hungary and the Commission on May 7. Overall, Hungary will benefit from â‚¬25 billion under the new programming period. The country is the sixth largest beneficiary of EU Cohesion policy.
The 15 operational programs include seven regional and eight sectoral programs. The Transport OP is the biggest. It will include investments of nearly â‚¬6.2b. from the European Regional Development Fund and from the Cohesion Fund. The program on "Environment and Energy" will receive investments of nearly â‚¬4.2b., from the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund. The national contribution to complement the European investment is â‚¬4.4b.
The Commission declared that it welcomes the commitment of the authorities in favor of the Trans-European transport networks with 50 percent of the expenditure directed towards sustainable transport and 50% for roads. In the environmental field, Hungary is expected to promote actions to fall in line with European regulations (such as the Water Directive, regulations on flood protection etc). The OP on economic development will focus on support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and enterprises involved in Research and development (R&D) activities. One program "Social Infrastructure," funded by the ERDF (totaling â‚¬1.9b.), is directed to help modernize the education sector (schools) and hospitals.
The EU support from the European Social Fund (ESF) will be channeled through two operational programs. The Social Renewal OP, providing nearly â‚¬3.5b. of funds, aims to increase labor market participation by improving employability and adaptability, providing quality education and ensuring all people have access to education. It also will focus on developing the content and organization of higher education, strengthening social inclusion and participation, health preservation and human resource development in health systems. The State Reform OP plans to use the â‚¬146.5m. of funding to increase the public administration's performance by reviewing processes and organizational development and improve the quality of its human resources.
The ERDF is intended also to contribute towards the financing of the "European Territorial Cooperation Objective." Hungary will be taking part in operational programs which will be adopted in the coming weeks for:
â€¢ Cross border cooperation with Slovakia, Austria, Romania and Slovenia
â€¢ Transnational cooperation between Central-Eastern Europe and South Eastern Europe
â€¢ Interregional cooperation in the European Union among all the Member States
Regional policy Commissioner Danuta HÃ¼bner Commissioner addressed the Economic Forum last Thursday. On this occasion, she signed five operational programs (OP) for Polish regions for 2007-2013. These programs represent a total of â‚¬6.7b., which is approximately 10% of the total allocation to be invested in Poland under European Cohesion policy 2007-2013.
The priorities defined in the individual regional programs are said to be fully in line with the priorities set out in the Polish National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), the priorities agreed with the Commission in May. Strengthening and promoting regional competitiveness and innovation could support the Polish regions and help them become more attractive offering increased quality of life and more adaptability and qualifications for the country's work force. The acclaimed focus is also on the attractiveness of cities with projects to diversify tourism and improve transport systems, the development of the knowledge society (in order to provide fast and safe Internet access) or to support environmentally friendly, renewable energy.
Danuta HÃ¼bner recalled that in the new regulation, the Commission had offered new instruments in the form of revolving funds providing for support for Small and Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) and urban regeneration measures (JESSICA). She mentioned that Greater Poland (Wielkopolskie) had clearly committed itself and programmed â‚¬60 million for JEREMIE and welcomed the region's willingness to act as a coordinator with other regions in this area.
The biggest Polish program is the national OP for Infrastructure and Environment, which will include investments of nearly â‚¬28b. from the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund. The second largest program is the OP Human Capital with investments of nearly â‚¬10b. from the European Social Fund. The remaining national programs are: OP Innovative Economy (â‚¬8.3b.), OP Development of Eastern Poland (â‚¬2.27b.) and OP Technical Assistance (â‚¬517m.).
Now that the programs have been adopted for Hungary and Poland, the "managing authorities" (relevant national and regional authorities) can start to implement policy and select concrete projects on the ground.
The author is head of the International Department at the Joseph Shem-Tov law firm.