On EU Funding and the National Recovery Plan – Local Development Forum seminar report
What can we reasonably expect of the local government project funding system? – such was the focal discussion theme of the 23rdLocal Development Forum seminar held to discuss EU funding for the years 2021-2027 and the National Recovery Plan.

The first Local Development Forum seminar to be held this autumn enjoyed great interest – over 400 representatives of cities and towns attended the event directly or by following the stream on Facebook. It goes without saying that the Association of Polish Cities owes such extraordinary attention to the particularly valid and hot topic they decided to explore: “Financing local development with EU 2021-2027 funds and from the National Recovery Plan”. The subject was selected following explicit municipal feedback.

“We are making every effort to present related knowledge in as useful a way as possible,” said Tomasz Potkański, Deputy Director of the Association of Polish Cities. This is why the seminar did not include a detailed description of all financial instruments cities and towns may be eligible for – instead, the Association’s experts explained to seminar participants which instruments can be used to fund specific local government needs. Consequently, project funding methods were discussed for the following areas: green transformation, road and water-and-sewage grid infrastructure, economy (agriculture included), education, healthcare, social inclusion and the labour market, revitalisation and reclamation projects, culture and tourism, and digital transformation. Territorial instruments were also showcased as mechanisms assisting local development, including particular instrument types (Integrated Territorial Investments, Community-Led Local Development, others) and conditions (strategies) of their use. Participants were also informed where they can look for particular regulations (e.g. the Partnership Agreement or implementation law).

EU funding allows cities and towns to embark on development activities on a variety of levels, also in swift response to and remedy of present-day pandemic circumstances and their outcomes. During the seminar, the Association’s experts and Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy specialists described the current state of knowledge concerning EU funding available to Poland under the new financial perspective – pursuant to the 2021-2027 Partnership Agreement, domestic and regional programmes, and the National Recovery Plan.

Thanks to all of the above, municipalities may identify the match between their activities and EU goals; strategic governance directions requiring special attention; areas and investment types for which funding can be secured; and efficient forms of preparing for the process of applying for new funding.

It is noteworthy that the series of seminars is delivered as part of the “Local Development" Programme implemented by the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy within the framework of the 3rd edition of Norway and European Economic Area Grants. The Local Development Forum is an open platform introduced by the Association of Polish Cities for purposes of debates with contributions from local governments, the central government and experts, combined with an integrated activity package designed to promote attitudes and tools supporting sustainable and endogenic local development.