In 2016, the European Commission launched an initiative to identify constraints to growth in the less developed regions of the European Union, and to provide targeted assistance and action – aiming to unlock their growth potential. Poland and Romania were the first countries to pilot this initiative, with two regions selected in each – Świętokrzyskie and Podkarpackie in Poland, and North-West and North-East in Romania.
The European Commission and the World Bank share a long-standing partnership for development, ranging from the joint financing of infrastructure projects to the provision of technical assistance to European Union (EU) and non-EU countries. The European Commission considers the World Bank capable of bringing its technical and operational expertise, as well as its convening power and role as an honest broker, to address some of the constraints facing the lagging regions. It was assumed that by combining its operational expertise with its global knowledge, the World Bank would deliver strategic development outcomes and respond to key development challenges.
Over a year of joint work, the World Bank provided hands-on technical assistance, helping coordinate five activities that were selected by the two Polish regions, in coordination with the European Commission, Poland’s Ministry of Economic Development, and the World Bank. The five selected activities were:
- Vocational education and training,
- Activating entrepreneurship,
- Easier business registration,
- Financial instruments.
An overview report summarizing the project and reports for individual activities are available in both English and Polish.