On 5 December 2007, Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy signed the European Commission’s decision approving the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme for 2007-2013. It was the culmination of several months of work on the preparation of the largest programme in the history of the European Union. The EU contribution to the implementation of the programme is almost euro 28 billion, which represents about 42% of all cohesion policy funds.
OBJECTIVES OF THE IaE OP
The main objective of the programme is to improve the attractiveness of Poland and its regions as places to invest in, through development of roads and utilities while protecting the environment, health and cultural heritage, and strengthening territorial cohesion. In accordance with the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) approved by the European Commission on 7 May 2007, the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme is, along with the other operational programmes, one of the key instruments by which the objectives of the NSRF are to be achieved with the help of the Cohesion Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. The Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme is also an important instrument for the implementation of the renewed Lisbon Strategy, and expenditure for EU priority objectives constitutes 66.23% of the Programme’s total expenditure of EU funds.
The total amount allocated for the entire Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme 2007-2013 is euro 37.6 billion, including an EU contribution of euro 27.9 billion and euro 9.7 billion from domestic sources.
EU funds available under the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme will be allocated as follows:
- environment – euro 4.8 billion;
- transport – euro 19.4 billion;
- energy sector – euro 1.7 billion;
- culture – euro 490.0 million;
- health – euro 350.0 million;
- higher education – euro 500.0 million.
In addition, euro 581.3 million have been allocated for technical support under the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme.
Fifteen priorities will be implemented under the programme:
- Water and wastewater management – euro 3 275.2 million (including euro 2 783.9 million under the CF);
- Waste management and land protection and rehabilitation – euro 1 430.3 million (including euro 1 215.7 million under the CF);
- Resource management and environmental risk prevention – euro 655.0 million (including euro 556.8 million under the CF);
- Initiatives aimed at helping enterprises meet environmental requirements – euro 667.0 million (including euro 200.0 million under the ERDF);
- Nature conservation and environmental awareness building – euro 105.6 million (including euro 89.9 million under the ERDF);
- TEN-T road and air transport network – euro 10 548.3 million (including euro 8 802.4 million under the CF);
- Environment-friendly transport – euro 12 062.0 million (including euro 7 676.0 million under the CF);
- Transport safety and national transport networks – euro 3 465.3 million (including euro 2 945.5 million under the ERDF);
- Environment-friendly energy infrastructure and energy efficiency – euro 1 403.0 million (including euro 748.0 million under the CF);
- Energy security, including diversification of the energy sources – euro 1 693.2 million (including euro 974.3 million under the ERDF);
- Culture and cultural heritage – 576.4 million (including euro 490.0 million under the ERDF);
- Health security and improvement of healthcare system efficiency – euro 411.8 million (including euro 350.0 million under the ERDF);
- Higher education infrastructure – euro 588.2 million (including euro 500.0 million under the ERDF);
- Technical assistance – European Regional Development Fund – euro 220.9 million (including euro 187.8 million under the ERDF);
- Technical assistance – Cohesion Fund – euro 462,9 million (including euro 393.5 million under the CF).
The following institutions (Intermediate Bodies) are responsible for the implementation of the different priorities of the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme :
- Ministry of Environment (priorities 1-5);
- Ministry of Infrastructure (priorities 6-8);
- Ministry of Economy (priorities 9-10);
- Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (priority 11);
- Ministry of Health (priority 12);
- Ministry of Science and Higher Education (priority 13).
HOW WAS THE IaE OP PREPARED?
Work on the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme began in January 2006. Special inter-ministerial working groups developed basic programme assumptions and objectives for the individual areas to be supported by the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund. Acting on the recommendations of these working groups, the Ministry of Regional Development prepared the draft programme which was approved by the Council of Ministers on 1 August 2006 and became the subject of public consultations.
Extensive public consultations concerning the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme took place in September and October, 2006. The process also included consultations concerning the draft environmental impact assessment report on the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme.
Moreover, external evaluation of the draft operational programme was conducted to assess i.a. the degree to which the programme addresses real social and economic problems, as well as its compatibility with other documents and strategies and its internal coherence. As a result of these consultations and evaluation, many proposals and suggestions of various social and economic groups, Voivodeship self-governments as well as non-government organizations, have been taken into account.
The next milestone was 29 November 2006, when the modified draft of the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme was approved by the Council of Ministers and submitted to the European Commission as a basis for negotiations.
HOW WERE THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION CONDUCTED?
Negotiations concerning the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme were held between May and September 2007. The European Commission was represented by the Directorate General for Regional Policy, but other directorates were also able to give opinions and comments in the process of inter-service consultations. The Polish team included representatives of the Ministries of Environment, Transport, Marine Economy, Economy, Culture and National Heritage, Health, Science and Higher Education and other institutions who had participated in the preparation of the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme. The negotiations comprised two formal negotiation rounds during which the parties presented their positions, and several technical meetings during which differences in the positions were discussed and compromise solutions were worked out.
EX-ANTE EVALUATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
On the basis of the ex-ante evaluation of the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme, strategic environmental impact assessment (SEIA) and public consultations (10 conferences with 1700 participants), a number of modifications were made in the draft text provisionally accepted by the Council of Ministers on 1 August 2007, most notably:
- the allocation of EU funds for the Programme was increased by euro 6 573 million,
- two priorities, “Higher education infrastructure” and “Competitiveness of regions”, were added,
- the wording of Priority Axis 3 was changed as requested by environmental organizations, according to which small water retention projects should be favoured while large dam projects should only be supported in justified cases.
The minister for regional development is the Managing Authority for the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme. The Minister acts through the Department for Coordination of Infrastructural Programmes of the Ministry of Regional Development. The Managing Authority has delegated some tasks to Intermediate Bodies, i.e. ministers responsible for the various areas covered by the programme.
According to the draft act on the principles of development policy, non-competition procedures will apply to the following types of projects:
- large projects, which will be approved by the European Commission; large projects include environmental projects worth more than euro 25 million and projects in other fields worth more than euro 50 million;
- system projects, consisting in support for the provision of public services by public administration bodies and other entities of the public finance sector in accordance with separate regulations concerning such bodies and entities;
- individual projects specified in the operational programme, proposed by beneficiaries named in the operational programme;
- technical assistance projects.
Other projects will be selected through competition procedures.
All entities which are to act as Implementing Institutions (Second Level Intermediate Bodies), to which certain tasks associated with the management and implementation of the IaE OP will be delegated, have already been selected.
In the IaE OP implementation system all but one (Centre for Coordination of Environmental Projects) entity acting as II/IB2 will be public finance sector entities. The appointed II/IB2s include institutions with no prior experience in European funds management, for which this will be the first opportunity to be part of the implementation system of an EU-funded programme. These institutions include i.a. the Information Processing Centre (II/IB2 for the science sector), the Institute for Fuels and Renewable Energy (II/IB2 for the economy sector) or the newly established Centre for EU Transport Projects (II/IB2 for the transport sector).