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Polish flag     
This page was archived on the 1st of May 2004.
The information concerning this ex candidate country has not been updated since that date.

Bullet Country profile
Bullet Overview of key documents related to enlargement
Bullet Press releases/News section
Bullet Interesting links
Enlargement
 

Country profile

Area:  312,685 square km
Population: There are 38,654 million inhabitants, of which 98% are ethnic Poles. Poland recognises 13 national or ethnic minorities.
Official language:  Polish
Constitution: 

New Democratic Constitution passed in 1997

Administrative division:  1999: 16 provinces (wojewodztwo), 308 counties (powiat) and 2,489 communes (gmina)
Application for EU accession:  Submitted to the European Commission in 1994

The Polish state is over 1,000 years old. In the XVIth century, under the Jagiellonian dynasty, Poland was one of the richest and most powerful states on the continent. On May 3, 1791 the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania ratified a constitution, being the first written constitution of Europe. Soon after Poland ceased to exist for 123 years, upon being partitioned by its neighbours Russia, Austria and Prussia. The country regained independence in 1918 for only 20 years. In 1989 the first partially free elections in Poland's post-war history concluded the Solidarity movement's ten-year struggle for freedom and resulted in the defeat of Poland's communist rulers. In 1999 Poland joined NATO and began negotiating its full membership in the European Union.

The Constitution passed in 1997 vests legislative power in the Sejm and the Senate The 460 Deputies of the Sejm are elected via party lists and serve a four years term. Parties entering the Sejm have to overcome a 5% (8% for coalitions) threshold. The Sejm plays the dominant role in the legislative process and has the right to supervise the Council of Ministers. The second chamber, the Senate can amend or reject laws passed by the Sejm.

The President is the supreme representative of the Republic of Poland and the guarantor of the continuity of State authority. He is elected for a five-year term of office in direct elections. The President can veto laws. A qualified majority in of the Sejm can override the President's veto.

The Council of Ministers (the Government) chaired by the Prime Minister is the principal body of the Executive Branch. The Prime-Minister-designate is nominated by the largest parliamentary group and is given a mandate by the President to form a cabinet. The National Assembly elects the proposed Council of Ministers.

The country has a variety of natural resources including coal, copper, zinc, iron, gypsum, lignite and some oil and natural gas reserves. The rapidly developing private sector is now responsible for 70% of the country's economic activities. The dynamic development of the private sectors is based on the continuous inflow of Foreign Direct Investment and the high level of entrepreneurial activity of the Polish population. Dominant industries include metalwork, steel, and chemical and textile production. Increasingly trade, high technology and the service sector play an important role in for employment and restructuring of the national economy.

About a fifth of all Poles are employed in agriculture. This contributes to less than 5% of the GDP. About 60% of the country's land is used for agriculture. Almost one fourth of the population still lives on small, inefficient farms. Poland's main agricultural products include grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fodder and livestock.

For centuries Polish culture has been an integral part of European culture. Among the greatest Polish contributors to European culture are: the astronomer Copernicus, the great composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin and the outstanding scientist Maria Curie-Skłodowska. During the last two decades the Nobel Prize for literature has been awarded to two Polish poets Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska. A long musical tradition is continued by such world-renowned composers as Krzysztof Penderecki and Henryk Górecki. Films of Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Roman Polański contributed highly to the world and European cinema. Polish art and theatre are well known thanks to works of Jerzy Grotowski, Tadeusz Kantor and Magdalena Abakanowicz.

The capital Warsaw (1.6 million inhabitants) is the country's economic and political centre. Cracow - the country's third largest city, has been its cultural centre since the Middle Ages and was in 2000 Cultural City of Europe. Other Polish cities like Gdansk, Poznan, Lódz are of European importance, like the candidature of Wroclaw for EXPO 2010 underlines.

Poland has a high variety of landscapes: the Baltic beaches, the Mazurian Lake District, virgin forests, the Carpathians and the Sudeten Mountains. Poland's 26 national parks and 8 World Heritage sites are a host of historic and cultural sites of European importance and offer numerous tourist attractions.

Overview of key documents related to enlargement

 PDF format

EN

FR DE  
Regular Report -  November 5, 2003 286kb 518kb 314kb All
countries
Regular Report -  October 9, 2002 656kb 694kb 791kb All
countries
Regular Report -  November 13, 2001 330kb 363kb 370kb All
countries
Regular Report - November 8, 2000 459kb 489kb 670kb All
countries
Progress Report - October 13, 1999 238kb 264kb 274kb All
countries
Progress Report - November 1998 147kb 163kb 169kb  All
countries
Accession Partnership - November 13, 2001 pdf file
English 41kb

All countries

French 44kb
German 43kb
Accession Partnership - October 13, 1999 (revised February 2000) 
English pdf file 54kb

All countries

French pdf file 59kb
German pdf file 62kb
Opinion on Poland's Application for Membership of the European Union - July 1997

Danish

pdf file 507kb
German pdf file 682kb
Greek NA 
English pdf file 711kb
Spanish pdf file 499kb
Finnish pdf file 501kb
French pdf file 826kb
Italian pdf file 532kb
Dutch pdf file 529kb
Swedish pdf file 490kb

Press releases / News section

Interesting links

Polish State Institutions

International Organisations about Poland

Scientific and academic institutions

Polish and foreign nongovernmental organisations

Cultural Institutions

Other sources of information about Poland and EU

 
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