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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

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Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2002 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(98) 701 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(1999) 509 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2000) 708 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1752 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1408 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1207 - Not published in the Official Journal]Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]


In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission noted that Poland was gradually adopting the Community acquis with regard to the free movement of goods. It also stressed that some progress had been made during 1997, although further efforts were required for implementing the acquis.

The November 1998 Report, however, complained of a certain delay in this process.

The October 1999 Report stated that Poland was far from being able to comply with this fundamental freedom of the single market, since it had not made significant progress in implementing the legislative framework concerning this area, particularly as regards the transposition of the "New Approach" Directives.

In its November 2000 Report, the Commission considered that substantial progress had been made in the adoption of the acquis concerning the free movement of goods and the customs union.

The November 2001 Report noted some progress in the area of free movement and steady progress on the customs union.

In its October 2002 Report, the Commission noted that in the area of the free movement of goods, Poland had made significant progress in certain areas, whilst in others it had taken a step backwards. It had continued to make progress in adopting the acquis relating to the customs union.

In its November 2003 Report, the Commission feels that Poland is essentially meeting the requirements of the acquis, although a final push still needs to be made in some areas.

The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.


Free movement of goods can only be achieved by removing measures which restrict trade - not only customs duties and quantitative restrictions but all measures with equivalent, i.e. protectionist, effect.

Where technical standards are not harmonised, the principle of mutual recognition of national rules applies (in line with the Cassis de Dijon judgment).

For the purpose of harmonisation, the European Community has developed the " New Approach ". Instead of imposing technical solutions, European Community legislation is limited to establishing the essential requirements which products must meet.


At the start of the negotiations, Poland had achieved a poor level of compliance with the acquis communautaire in this field. The short-term impact of this has been the creation of a number of damaging market-access difficulties for EU economic agents. Similarly, Polish producers face higher costs as they have to meet two differing standards. In the longer term, the lack of progress in harmonisation in this field may create difficulties for Polish firms as they will face a shorter time frame in which to adjust to the acquis and it will be more difficult for them to benefit from their access to the EU market.

There was no progress in the transposition or implementation of the New Approach directives until 1999. No progress has been achieved in the transposition of the directives on chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, glass, textiles, footwear, wood and legal metrology. Poland has, however, adopted a regulation on the technical conditions applicable to motor vehicles. In 2000, considerable progress was made as regards horizontal and procedural measures with the adoption of the necessary framework legislation for the "New Approach". The Polish Committee for European Integration approved a "Schedule of Implementation of New Approach Directives" in March 2001. In 2002, an amendment to the law on conformity assessment addressing, in particular, the issue of market surveillance, together with a new standardisation law were adopted.

Progress in the field of conformity assessment certification and technical regulation has been confined to the removal of long-standing trade barriers with the adoption, on 23 July 1999, of the amendment to the Act on Testing and Certification, which came into force on 10 September 1999. Poland will have to ensure that this amendment is implemented in accordance with the obligations set out in the Agreement on the Protocol on Conformity Assessment. The short-term priorities of the 1998 Accession Partnership require further efforts, since none of the framework legislation required has been adopted. The adoption, in April 2000, of the Law on Conformity Assessment established the legal framework for the adoption and implementation of the New and Old Approach directives. The most important achievement in 2001 in terms of alignment of legislation was the entry into force of the amendment to the Standardisation Act in December 2000.

The 2003 report notes that the horizontal and procedural measures required for the administration of the "New Approach" acquis are in place. Poland has transposed the majority of the sectoral legislation under the new approach, but progress still needs to be made with regard to cableways, medical devices, non-automatic weighing instruments, marine equipment, and radio and telecommunications terminal equipment.

As regards the old approach directives, Poland had transposed a significant part of the acquis in these product sectors up to 2003. Further efforts are required in the areas of textiles, legal metrology, motor vehicles, chemicals, fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and wood.

Poland still needs to introduce mutual recognition clauses into its existing legislation.

The framework legislation on pharmaceuticals was adopted in September 2001.

In conclusion, the 2003 report notes that Poland needs to take urgent action as regards the abolition of persisting trade barriers in order to ensure that Poland is in accordance with the fundamental EU rules on the free movement of goods by the time of accession.

Progress has also been made with institutional reforms. The Polish Government has adopted the decree separating the accreditation and certification functions which currently both reside in the same body, the Polish Centre for Testing and Certification. The Polish Committee for Standardisation is not yet a fully independent body. It is still a government-controlled public institution. Its independence should be ensured by the entry into force of the amendment to the Standardisation Act, scheduled from January 2003.

Negotiations on this chapter were closed in December 2002. Transitional arrangements have been granted: firstly, for medical devices (until 2005), and secondly, until the end of 2008, for the renewal of market authorisations for existing pharmaceutical products. Poland must now focus on finalising its alignment efforts, in particular by adopting outstanding implementing legislation (especially in the field of foodstuffs and public procurement).

As regards adoption of the acquis in the area of the customs union, Poland has to a large extent aligned its legislation with the acquis. An important step was taken in October 1999 with the government's adoption of a customs strategy. Progress has also been made on the adoption of the Community Customs Code and its implementing provisions. In 2001, this alignment was virtually completed through the Amendment to the Polish Customs Code, which entered into force in March 2001. Nevertheless, customs fraud continues to be a problem. The 2002 report notes steady progress in the alignment of legislation with the acquis and the development of institutional capacities.

The 2003 report notes that the Polish authorities have achieved significant progress in the development and implementation of computerised systems and have solved other interconnectivity-related issues. Poland's customs legislation is largely in line with the acquis following the entry into force in August 2003 of the last legislative alignments.

Negotiations on this chapter were closed in December 2002. No transitional arrangements have been requested.

Last updated: 23.02.2004