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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) 710 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(1999) 509 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2000) 709 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 July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission considered that Poland should not have major problems in the area of education, training and youth with regard to accession.

The November 1998 Report generally confirmed this initial assessment, while calling for further efforts in areas such as the recognition of diplomas and vocational training.

The October 1999 Report noted that some progress had been made in this field but called for greater attention to be given to the vocational training sector. Cooperation between the administrative institutions concerned had to be accelerated to allow Poland to develop an educational system which offered young people new opportunities, particularly in the regions most affected by the economic and social transition.

The November 2000 Report stated that, despite some limited progress in terms of legislation, this had yet to be adopted. The implementation of education reforms was continuing but with some difficulties.

The November 2001 Report noted that Poland had made progress in reforming its education and training system and in bringing Polish legislation into line with the Directive on the education of the children of migrant workers. However, a suitable vocational education and training system still had to be put in place.

The October 2002 Report noted that further progress had been made in terms of legislation but work remained to be done to ensure adequate administrative capacity.

The November 2003 Report states that Poland should be in a position to implement the acquis as soon as it joins the EU. However, it must continue its efforts to implement the provisions relating to the education of the children of migrant workers.

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


The EC Treaty requires the Community to:

  • contribute to the development of quality education which shall include a European dimension and shall support and supplement the action of the Member States while respecting their cultural and linguistic diversity (Article 149, ex Article 126) with regard to the content of teaching and the organisation of education systems;
  • implement a vocational training policy which shall support and supplement the action of the Member States (Article 150, ex Article 127) and shall aim to facilitate adaptation to industrial changes and increase employability.

These provisions are implemented principally via three main action programmes (Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Youth for Europe), which were recently updated with the introduction of a new generation of programmes (Socrates, Leonardo and Youth).


The reform started in September 1999 was primarily aimed at raising the overall attainment level. Poland has opted for a secondary education system that puts greater emphasis on general technical and higher education with a view to increasing school-leavers' mobility in the labour market. In addition, the reallocation of management responsibilities (voivodships, poviats, gminas) will eventually improve the distribution of financial sources.

Vocational training was generally ignored by the reform, which focuses mainly on the general and higher education system. This could have medium-term consequences for Polish competitiveness, employability, inward investment and redevelopment of the rural economy. Further attention is required in this area, in particular to address the skills deficit in rural and remote regions and in regions where industrial restructuring will require new investment and new employment.

Since March 1998 Poland has been successfully participating in the Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Youth programmes and national agencies have been established to promote and provide information on each programme. In April 2002, Poland adopted a legislative clause allowing foreigners to study in Poland.

Poland has undertaken education reforms, particularly with regard to teachers. In January 1999, it adopted an amendment to the teachers' charter, introducing a new career system in which promotion depends on obtaining higher qualifications. The aim of the charter is to solve the significant problem of unequal salaries among teaching staff in order to attract competent, dedicated teachers. However, there was a delay in the introduction of pay increases for teachers in 2000 because of the budget deficits of some local authorities responsible for paying teachers' salaries.

In this connection, the Ministry of Education was reorganised in October 2001 and renamed "Ministry of Education and Sports". A new department for vocational education and training and further education was set up with additional capacity.

The entry into force, in January 2001, of an amendment to the law on school education has brought Polish legislation into line with the Directive on the education of the children of migrant workers. Further work is needed in this area, however.

In order to complete preparations for accession, Poland must now concentrate on establishing the administrative capacity necessary to implement the acquis in this area and, more generally, on implementing the education reforms.

Poland has been making steady progress since the Commission's Opinion of 1997. Negotiations on this chapter have been closed for the time being (see the 2002 Report). Poland has not asked for transitional arrangements in this area.

Last updated: 04.03.2004