Polish MPs have adopted measures to compensate employers struggling to cope with rising electricity bills as European Union carbon emission costs hit home.
Coal-dependent Poland’s power plants have faced rising charges to purchase pollution rights under the European Commission’s emissions trading scheme. The costs are now being passed on to households and firms.
But Poland is also aware that it benefits substantially from EU membership. Last year Warsaw said EU funding added at least 0.5 percentage point each year to GDP.
The technology ministry said Poland’s parliament had agreed to spend around 900 million zloty (€211 million) per year from next year on payments to employers who use large quantities of electricity to help maintain competitiveness and protect around 1.3 million jobs.
“Around 300 companies from energy-intensive industries, like the chemical, metal and paper sectors, will be entitled to compensation for the costs of purchasing carbon dioxide emission rights included in the price of energy,” the ministry said.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) government’s legislation won the backing of 420 MPs in the 460-member lower house, with just one vote against and six abstentions.
With a general election looming in the autumn, Warsaw has focused on price caps to mitigate the rising cost of emission under the EU rules, rather than trying to cut pollution.
Last month Poland and three other member states blocked an EU a zero net greenhouse gas emissions bid by 2050, calling for funding from Brussels to pay for conversion to renewable sources.
According to the European statistics agency, Eurostat, renewables made up 10.9 per cent of Poland’s energy mix in 2017, which will need to increase to 15 per cent by 2020 to comply with the EU’s environmental targets.
PiS is targeting a feeble reduction in Poland’s dependence on coal for electricity generation, from around 80 per cent at present to 60 per cent in 2030.
In 2017, Poland was the largest net beneficiary of EU funding, receiving €8.1 billion more than it contributed.
The biggest share of total contributions to the EU’s budget in 2016 came from Germany with 19 per cent, a net contribution of €12.8 billion. France, the UK and Italy all contributed more than 10 per cent.
Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have received around €150 billion in net subsidies from the Brussels budget since 2007. For the 2014-20 budget, EU subsidies comprise 2.6 per cent of Hungarian GDP, 2.4 per cent in Poland, 1.8 per cent in the Czech Republic and 2.3 per cent in Slovakia.
Poland blames its coal-dependency on Soviet occupation. Picture credit: Wikimedia