• Total financing reached a record €6.5 billion, which places Poland fourth among the EIB Group’s beneficiary countries in terms of volume of financing.
  • The level of investment supporting the green transformation of the Polish economy increased again, reaching 42% of EIB loans. 

In the second year of the pandemic, there was a significant economic rebound both in the European Union and in Poland. The frequently changing economic growth forecasts proved how dynamically the conditions in which we operated had changed. The EIB Group adjusted its financing to the growing needs and in 2021 supported private business and the public sector with a record €6.5 billion.

Loans granted by the European Investment Bank (EIB) amounted to €5.68 billion, while the European Investment Fund (EIF) provided €805.4 million in guarantees and equity investments to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps. In absolute terms, Poland was the fourth largest recipient of EIB Group financing among the 27 EU Member States after France, Italy and Spain.

This overall financing represents around 1.16% of Poland’s gross domestic product (GDP), supporting nearly 670 000 jobs in the Polish economy.

EIB Vice-President Teresa Czerwińska said: In such an uncertain environment, the margin for error is small. Consequently, the EIB Group prepared an extensive portfolio of financial projects throughout 2021, taking into account both long-term structural needs and a counter-cyclical response. Due to these circumstances, last year we managed to sign contracts for financing projects with a total value of €6.5 billion. This is a record achievement in the over 30-year history of the Bank’s operations in Poland. It proves that the EIB Group is ready to provide financing to key sectors of the economy, while dealing with the crisis related to the coronavirus pandemic in a very short time. 2022 presents us with even greater challenges as we support countries struggling with the consequences of the war in Ukraine. Poland will certainly be the biggest beneficiary of this support.

Green and energy transition  

For the second year in a row, EIB loans supporting the green transformation of the Polish economy reached 42% of the total (41% in 2020). A key element of the changes supporting climate action is the energy transition to renewable energy sources.

EIB financing sustained the decarbonisation plans of the largest Polish energy companies. For example, Tauron and Energa will invest in the modernisation of the distribution network to facilitate the connection of new customers (including microinstallations). Tauron received a PLN 2.8 billion loan from the EIB in the largest corporate financing transaction in Poland in the Bank’s history (for purposes other than the development of transport infrastructure). Investments in the distribution network are essential for the safe transformation of the Polish energy sector and are necessary to continue the decarbonisation process and achieve climate neutrality.

EIB financing of €180 million also supported PKN Orlen in the field of renewable energy and biorefinery projects, and in the area of research and development.

Overall, the EIB Group spent €1.1 billion on sustainable energy and natural resources projects in Poland in 2021.

Digital transition and research and innovation

The financing of projects related to innovation, digitalisation and the development of human capital increased to €1.459 billion, up from 2020 (€1.225 billion). The EIB was particularly involved in projects to improve internet connection throughout the country.

  • In a flagship transaction, the EIB granted a loan of up to PLN 325 million (€73 million) to Nexera to develop the high-speed internet connection in lower population density areas in Poland. It will bring fibre to the home (FTTH) infrastructure to five provinces (Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Mazowieckie, Łódzkie and Świętokrzyskie), helping to better connect around 530 000 households and 1 400 schools by 2023. The project has received the backing of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
  • Another significant investment in Poland’s digitalisation involved Światłowód Inwestycje, which received a PLN 600 million loan from the EIB. The company’s network is expected to reach 2.4 million households by the end of 2025.

The European Investment Bank and the Ministry of Finance also concluded two loan agreements to finance grants for basic research awarded by the National Science Centre (€365 million) and support activities in the area of research, development and innovation in 70 research institutes associated with the Polish Academy of Sciences throughout the country (€177 million).

Infrastructure and the sustainable development of cities and regions

In 2021, the EIB Group allocated €2.161 billion (approximately 38% of total financing in Poland) to sustain infrastructure projects and local authorities. Polish cities such as Kraków, Wrocław, Szczecin and Częstochowa received financing to invest in the development of better urban infrastructure, including wastewater management systems, neighbourhood revitalisation, green areas and low-emission urban transport. New tramways will power the communication networks in Wrocław and Upper Silesia, and electric buses in Częstochowa.

After a pilot project with Ostrów Wielkopolski in 2020, the EIB launched a PLN 700 million joint scheme with Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK) to support Polish cities with a population below 100 000. More projects are expected this year. A separate PLN 600 million loan to BGK aims to finance social and affordable housing projects throughout Poland.

The EIB also supported the modernisation of transport infrastructure, with particular emphasis on environmental aspects. A €240 million EIB loan was disbursed to the National Road Fund (KFD) managed by BGK in cooperation with the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways. The loan will finance a new bypass, part of the S6 road, which will facilitate traffic around three Polish Baltic cities known as the Tricity — Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot (750 000 inhabitants). The S6 road will run parallel to the Baltic coast. Part of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), it connects northern Poland with the multimodal TEN-T Baltic-Adriatic corridor.

The railway sector in Poland received a boost thanks to a significant EIB loan to PKP Intercity, the largest Polish long-distance rail operator. The EIB and PKP Intercity signed a loan agreement for PLN 2 billion (approximately €434 million), which will help the company finance a strategic programme of rolling stock modernisation to increase the frequency, safety and attractiveness of long-distance train journeys throughout the country, as well as improving accessibility for people with reduced mobility.

Ongoing support for SMEs — a key sector of the Polish economy

Small and medium-sized businesses received financing from the EIB Group of €1.780 billion, of which around €640 million was allocated specifically to ease the impact of COVID-19 on SMEs. Around 65% of EIB Group financing for SMEs came from the EIB in the form of loans, while around 35% came from the EIF in the form of guarantees and equity investments.

After a first tranche of PLN 500 million in 2020, additional financing of PLN 2 billion was granted to the Polish Development Fund (PFR) to support its Financial Shield Programme.

Support for local enterprises continued with the development of long-standing relationships with local banks and other financial institutions such as PKO Bank Polski, Bank Pekao SA, Europejski Fundusz Leasingowy, BNP Paribas Bank Polska and Bank Ochrony Środowiska. Financing for the SME sector also contributed to climate action. Bank Ochrony Środowiska received a €75 million (around PLN 350 million) EIB loan, of which at least 50% is earmarked for projects focused on environmental protection.

Another example of a joint EIB-EIF operation to counter the pandemic’s effects was the agreement signed between the EIB Group and the Santander Bank Group. A securitisation transaction for approximately PLN 2 billion (€444 million) was signed with Santander Leasing S.A. to help Santander Bank Polska Group — through capital relief and loss protection — to expand its financing for small and medium-sized businesses in Poland. This is the first synthetic securitisation transaction backed by the European Guarantee Fund (EGF), an instrument set up by the EIB Group together with EU Member States to fight the economic consequences of the pandemic. 85% of the financing should support businesses in cohesion regions.

The EIF’s involvement in the Polish economy amounted to €805.4 million, up from 2020 (€660.4 million).

Outlook: EIB Group in Poland in 2022

This year, the EIB Group will continue to support Poland’s green and digital transition, quality infrastructure projects throughout cities and regions, innovation and small business development, while helping to improve the country’s resilience to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s new InvestEU initiative has started. Dedicated to the modernisation of the European economy, the EIB Group, through the EIB and the EIF, will implement 75% of the programme, combining loans and other financial instruments with guarantees from the EU budget. An operational agreement between the EIB Group and the European Commission was signed on 9 March 2022.

The effects of the war in Ukraine are being felt by neighbouring countries. The EIB Group will therefore support the countries receiving refugees from Ukraine, with Poland being the main beneficiary of this support.

The EIB Group has signed the following agreements in 2022 to date:

  • EDPR — PLN 304 million: the largest EIB investment in onshore wind farms in Poland.
  • P4 / Play — PLN 470 million: this financing will help to eliminate inequalities in access to ultra-fast broadband internet services.
  • BGK — €250 million: modernisation of the S3 route connecting Świnoujście and Szczecin.
  • Bank Pekao Group — €132 million: financing for SMEs — 20% of the loan will support environmental protection projects. Another 20% will support the development of female entrepreneurship and projects promoting gender equality.
  • Bank Millennium — PLN 330 million: securitisation transaction that will help the bank to develop its financing for small and medium-sized enterprises in Poland.
  • PFR: strategic cooperation agreement.