The cohesion policy was adopted in 1988 with the purpose of reducing disproportions in the level of development of various regions of the Community's countries, and eliminating the backwardness of the underprivileged areas, rural areas included. In accordance with decisions taken at the time the cohesion policy was to be financed from structural funds, i.e. from the Orientation Section of FEOGA (the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund), the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and - from 1993 - the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance and, also, the Cohesion Fund. Since 1988 the cohesion policy has been modified several times (in 1994-1999, 2000-2006 and 2007-2013). In the 1988-2006 period the main beneficiaries of assistance available from the EU funds were the poorest member-states of the European Union - Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland. These countries allocated the obtained means to the development of infrastructure, human resources and production environment. The use of means obtained from the EU funds in 1988-2006 helped reduce the difference in the level of development of the named countries and the remaining countries of EU-15.