By joining the European Union Poland has obtained access to means available from the Union's structural funds and Cohesion Fund, which constitute the principal source of financing structural policy. Currently, there exist four structural funds: the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance. The most important task of the four funds is to support the restructuring and modernisation of the economies of the European Union's member-states. In the 2004-2006 period means from structural funds will be allocated in Poland to the implementation of five sectoral operational programmes, to the Integrated Regional Development Operational Programme (ZPORR) and to the Technical Assistance operational programme. The development of technical infrastructure and infrastructure serving environmental protection is supported, in turn, from the Cohesion Fund. However, the absorption of means from structural funds and the Cohesion Fund that have been awarded to Poland encounters a number of barriers. This calls for an urgent reform of the current, extremely complicated system of awarding assistance available from EU funds. Otherwise Poland will not be able to utilise the financial means awarded it from the EU budget and this will slow down the process of diminishing the difference in the level of economic development between Poland and the 'old' EU countries.