• Rank: 32 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 41
  • HEALTH 26

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Not yet a major country of immigration, PL’s immigrant population is small but hardworking and increasing in recent years from around 40,000 in 2008 to 275,000 in 2013, mostly workers from UA, BY, MD
  • Non-EU immigrants to PL are increasingly coming from medium-developed countries (60% in 2013) and university-educated (41% in 2013)
  • Similar to EU average, majority of public in PL think immigrants enrich PL culturally and economically (57%) and should have equal rights as PL citizens (69%)
  • No major political changes impact the debate on immigration and integration 

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

Since 2010, +5 points, a significant improvement on MIPEX, means PL's overall integration policies are following international best practices and are no longer slightly unfavourable for integration as before:

  • +30 points on Access to nationality: 2009 Citizenship Law (implemented in 2012) provides the 1st generation with a path to citizenship average for Europe, with a rights-based procedure as in Northern Europe and following international trends opening to dual nationality
  • +26 points on Anti-discrimination: In 2010, PL was the last EU country to pass an Equal Treatment Law, creating an equality body, basic definitions of discrimination and strong enforcement mechanisms 
  • +2 points on Labour market mobility and Family reunion: Inspired by EU law, 2013 Aliens Act Amendments facilitates access to labour market for temporary residents, including reuniting families 

Conclusions and recommendations

PL's integration policies create more obstacles than opportunities for immigrants to fully participate in society, with average policies compared to the rest of Central Europe. PL ranks 32nd out of 38 (alongside BG and MT but below CZ, RO, SI) because of its:

  • Weaker general/targeted support for non-EU newcomers to pursue jobs and training
  • Weaker school support for the small number of newcomer pupils disadvantaged by limited PL proficiency
  • Weaker definitions of discrimination in the EU's youngest law on equal treatment
  • One of the equality bodies and policies with the weakest powers in the world (ranked 31st)
  • Outdated restrictions on political liberties, no consultative body of immigrants, missing reform on local voting rights 
  • Naturalisation requires higher language level (B1) and stricter income requirements than most countries
  • Missing specific citizenship entitlements for PL-born or PL-educated children (e.g. recent reforms in CZ, DE, DK)

Policy Recommendations from Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)

  • All non-EU citizens should be able to benefit from a structural Polish integration policy, adopted and implemented through broad consultation with government, NGO, academic and immigrant representatives
  • Non-EU citizens’ integration support should involve closer cooperation and information exchange between the Ministries of Interior and Labour and more actions from the many other ministries responsible for different aspects of public life
  • Increase non-EU citizens’ access to long-term integration support through more structural and varied funding sources for integration activities, including from the state budget
  • Increase non-EU citizens’ access to inter-sectoral integration activities at local level (as in Lublin) by making integration a higher priority in local development strategies
  • Structurally consult immigrant representatives in cities with large numbers of foreigners
  • Increase public awareness of integration’s positive sides, successes and the challenges faced by foreigners in public life






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Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Non-EU newcomers can increasingly find jobs and start businesses in PL, but without targeted support or the same general support and benefits as PL citizens

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

In PL, an estimated 1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens were not in employment, education or training in 2011/2, according to the EU Labour Force Survey. These numbers are average for Europe. 

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

While PL has opened to labour migrants, its policies are still slightly unfavourable to help these migrant workers improve their job and training prospects in PL, ranking 33rd out of 38 like IE and SI. Non-EU residents with the right to work enjoy no targeted support and limited access to general programmes for job-seekers and the social safety net. EU standards have helped to improve the situation for the self-employed (+5 in 2009) and for holders of the new single residence/work permit (+2 in 2014).

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • Non-EU newcomers' access to the labour market is improving and now slightly favourable for their long-term integration prospects in PL, more so than on average in Central Europe
  • Holders of the single residence and work permit can now change employers and remain unemployed for up to 1 month
  • Non-EU citizens cannot enter the public sector, as is the case in only 9 other countries (equal access in 15 others)
  • Temporary residents and family members can go into business for themselves, following enactment of a law on freedom of self-employment in 2009

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Non-EU newcomers receive the 3rd-weakest general support in PL (like SK, above only HU and IE) 
  • All non-EU citizens enjoy equal access to public employment services and secondary education
  • To equally access higher education and study grants, non-EU citizens must wait for years bedore they can become permanent/long-term residents or benefit from a bilateral agreement, unlike in several Southern and Central European countries
  • The major weaknesses are the recognition of non-EU academic and professional qualifications, based on bilateral agreements and complicated procedures (see instead DE, EE, NL, SE, UK)

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Targeted support and information is only available through ad hoc projects (only GR and SK offer such weak targeted support)  
  • Immigrants across countries increasingly receive targeted information on their rights and recognition procedures 
  • More established destination countries are seeing the economic benefits of supporting newcomers to learn the language for/at work (10 others), get informed and oriented at public employment services (12 others) and get start-up support for new businesses (e.g. PT)
  • Targeted employment support usually means using the available funding in a more systematic way for work-related training 

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • Non-EU workers enjoy weaker rights than in 25 other countries (similar gaps in BG, CZ, LT, SI, SK)
  • Non-EU workers are entitled to the same working conditions and access to trade unions, as in nearly all countries
  • All social security and housing benefits are only eligible for permanent/long-term residents, refugees and holders of a tolerated status (full access in 14 countries, mostly in Western Europe)

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

In PL, hardly any working-age non-EU adult men and women are accessing education and training (12% though data is unreliable). In contrast, 17% of working-age non-EU citizens on average in Europe said that they were recently enrolled in education or training, according to 2011/2 Labour Force Survey data. Uptake of education and training was just as low in several parts of Central and Southern Europe (e.g. EE/LV, HU, SI, CY, GR, IT).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • Slowly growing employment rate in PL and ≥2% average GDP growth since 2010 
  • Slightly more rigid employment protection legislation in PL than the OECD average
  • Majority of recent migrants in PL coming with temporary work permits 
  • Majority of non-EU-born with educational degree from PL

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

Labour market integration happens over time, at least for high-educated, according to 2011/2 data from the European Labour Force Survey. The long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' stay) with university degrees are just 10% less likely to have a job than PL people with university-degrees (70% vs. 80% for women and 80% vs. 87% for men). The number of non-EU immigrants are too small to identify the trend for low-educated workers or the quality of immigrants' jobs. In the majority of countries, employment rates for the low-educated are similar for at least immigrant and non-immigrant men. In the long-term, the major international challenge is not getting immigrants into jobs, but into jobs that use all of their skills and provide them with a living wage.

Family Reunion

Key Findings

PL's average family reunion policy have led to average family reunion rates for Europe

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

The law in PL slightly encourages non-EU families to reunite and to integrate in society, just like the average European country. Sponsors go through similar rules, conditions and procedures as in most EU and Central European countries. 
According to the law, the procedure should be less discretionary than in other Central European countries, while conditions for sponsors are average for most European countries. Conditions and time delays also impede family members from acquiring their own autonomous residence permit. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The eligibility criteria recognise the importance of reuniting non-EU residents with their spouse, children and, under certain conditions, extended family
  • Increasingly countries are extending these provisions to same-sex partners (26) and long-term partners (17)
  • The major weakness is the 2-year-delay for sponsors to apply; this approach both discourages sponsors from investing in their integration and limits the prospects of integration for children and spouses, which goes against recent 2014 European Commission recommendations
  • Unlike PL, most types of temporary residents in other countries can sponsor family immediately (14) or after 1 year (10)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The conditions for families to reunite in PL are similar to most countries (e.g. BG, HU, RO)
  • Only basic legal income and standard housing is required, as in the majority of countries
  • Fees can be relatively high by PL standards 

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Families can only be slightly secure of their chances to reunite and settle in PL (similar to BG, CZ, HU, RO, SK)
  • While the length and cost of the procedure may be burdensome, there are few additional grounds for rejecting their application or withdrawing their status (as in CA, IT, ES)
  • Families learn why authorities took the decision they did, and can appeal (as in 24 other countries)

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • 2013 Aliens Act guarantees reuniting family members the same socio-economic rights as their sponsor
  • They must wait 5 years for autonomous residence, a long wait similar to most European countries
  • Vulnerable families (e.g. in case of widowhood/death, divorce, separation) can be granted an autonomous permit, but this is conditional upon the 'special interest' of the person concerned (see stronger protections for victims of domestic violence in AU, CA, NO, NZ, PT, ES)

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

The number of non-EU family members reuniting with a non-EU resident in PL varied from 600-1,200 from 2010-2013. Nearly half of the reuniting families are citizens of VN and UA and around 5% are citizens of CN, BY, RU, AM, IN, TU.

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

Non-EU family reunion is relatively rare in the EU, including in PL. Out of every 100 non-EU residents in the average EU country, only 2.2 are newly arrived non-EU family members. For PL, this rate was also around 2.0 in 2013. The families reuniting together today in PL are not very representative of the diversity of PL's non-EU immigrant population and much less so than in the average European country. For example in 2013, family reunion was much more common among citizens of SO, KR, CN, VN and IN than among citizens of RU, UA, BY, AM. These divergences between nationalities are much greater in PL than in most European countries, on par with only DK, HU and RO. These results merit further investigation.


Key Findings

With recommendations but few requirements, schools may not be addressing intercultural education and the specific needs, opportunities and access problems of its small number of immigrant children

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

Foreign-born pupils make up a tiny percentage of pupils in PL and other Central European countries. For example, they hardly even appear in international studies, such as PISA.

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

Like most Central European countries with relatively small and new immigrant communities, PL does not prepare its schools well to integrate immigrant pupils into the education system. Despite projects here and there, immigrant pupils benefit from rather weak support to target their specific learning needs. They benefit from weaker policies on access, new opportunities and intercultural education within the PL education system.

Dimension 1: Access

  • Immigrant pupils may have limited access to all types of schools in policy and in practice, with PL's approach ranking 30th out of the 38
  • All pupils, regardless of status, are entitled to compulsory education
  • Temporary residents and children arriving with undocumented parents cannot continue onto vocational or higher education under the same conditions as PL citizens 
  • No targeted policies try to guarantee equal access in practice for immigrant pupils throughout their education in PL

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • Students may not become fluent in Polish because the free but weak language courses have limited duration and quality standards
  • Schools have the possibility to include additional remedial courses in their 1st year of schooling and use special mother-tongue teaching assistants, including for homework support 

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • Besides teaching immigrant languages and cultures, little is done to make schools into spaces for social integration, which is a weakness across Europe
  • Mother tongue teaching assistants may teach free mother-tongue language and culture courses organised with embassies 
  • Outreach is not systematic to immigrant teachers, parents and extracurricular community initiatives (see instead Northwest Europe and traditional countries of immigration) 

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • Intercultural education is largely absent from schools in PL, ranking 30th out of the 38 (see instead CZ, EE, SK, PT)
  • Schools can decide whether and how to make cultural diversity part of the curriculum and school, without required or extensive guidelines, monitoring and trainings  


Key Findings

Health services and policies have yet to address migrant patients' specific access/health needs

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

While health policies are generally weaker in Central European countries with relatively new and small immigrant populations, PL ranks 34th out of the 38, with weaker policies than most others (on par with LT, LV, HR, SI). Healthcare entitlements differ significantly for legal migrants, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants and only a few can get easily get information about entitlements and health issues. Many of their specific access and health needs are likely to go unmet in the absence of any targeted health services and policies.

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Nearly all legal migrants have the same entitlement to healthcare coverage as PL citizens (see also HR, DE, SE, CH)
  • Asylum-seekers are only eligible for free services in special medical centres coordinated by the Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (CSKMSW)
  • Undocumented migrants can only receive emergency care, must pay the full costs, and face discretionary decisions on care and payments, with exceptions only for infectious diseases, HIV tests and schoolchildren's preventive medical and dental care 

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Not all migrants can access information through various methods and foreign languages. PL's access policies found to be slightly weak and ranked 30th out of the 38
  • Only asylum-seekers are routinely informed of their entitlements and basic health issues through various methods and languages
  • In contrast, most other countries provide this information to all migrant groups and 18 have provided trained cultural mediators or patient navigators to some degree

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • So far, health services have done almost nothing to understand and address any of migrants' specific health/access needs (non-responsive services in PL and 6 other countries in Central and Southeast Europe)
  • Access to interpreters is still not clearly regulated for asylum-seekers and interpretation/translation is rare, except for ad hoc work by NGOs
  • Many mainstream actors think that no specific training, methods or feedback is necessary for dealing with migrant patients
  • Future projects may provide the reasons and tools to act (e.g. bilingual medical forms from project 'Adapting PL healthcare institutions to challenges of curing third-country nationals') 

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Migrant health has been overlooked in both health and integration policy, with PL ranked last alongside only IS
  • Almost no data or research have been produced to understand migrant health
  • The Office for Foreigners has only started to regulate basic issues like health interpreters for asylum-seekers
  • More broadly, health is not seen as a major issue for integration policy nor are migrants seen as a priority group for health policy

Political Participation

Key Findings

PL's small number of non-EU citizens have fewer opportunities to participate in public life in PL than in nearly all other countries

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

An estimated 66,000 non-EU adults (aged 15+) are disenfranchised in local elections in PL. While these numbers seem large compared to other Central European countries, this only represents 0.2% of PL's total adult population aged 15+.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Non-EU citizens have fewer opportunities to participate in public life in PL than in any other country except RO. Political opportunities are slowly improving in other new destination countries, including in Central Europe. CZ has moved forward from the same position as PL by opening political liberties, consultative bodies and new funding opportunities for immigrant associations, with ongoing debates on voting rights. Since 2007, these changes have not yet started in PL.

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Non-EU citizens cannot vote or stand in local elections, unlike 21 other countries (including EE, LT, SI, SK)

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Non-EU citizens cannot form their own association or join a political party
  • Their political liberties are more restricted in PL than in 31 of the 38 other countries 

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Immigrant associations have not become members of a structural consultative bodies on integration at national or local level in PL
  • PL is one of only 9 countries without any structural consultative forum of immigrants
  • In contrast, new and sometimes innovative structures have been founded in both old and new destination countries (e.g. CZ, EE, FR, GR, IE, LT, soon MT)

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • PL is one of only 9 countries without structural policies to inform or support immigrants to participate in civic and political life (see instead mostly Western European countries, including a few new destination countries e.g. PT)

Real beneficiaries

How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?

0% of non-EU citizen adults are enfranchised in local elections (unlike in EE, LT, HU, SI, SK). This situation is different for the non-EU-born in PL, most of whom are very long-settled PL citizens.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?

  • Around 50% of non-EU citizens are university-educated
  • Many non-EU citizens are from medium-developed countries
  • Generally low levels of civic engagement in Central Europe
  • Most non-EU-born are long-settled in PL

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

The security of permanent residence may be necessary but not sufficient to boost immigrants' integration outcomes as a form of 'second-class citizenship'

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become long-term residents?

Despite PL's reputation as a 'new' country of immigration, over 80% of non-EU citizens appear to be long-settled in PL, with 5+ years' residence. In most countries, over 3/4 of non-EU citizens are long-settled, including several Central European countries (e.g. CZ, HR, SI).

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Long-term residence is a slight area of strength for integration in Poland, thanks to EU law, with PL ranked 11th out of the 38 MIPEX countries. Under average eligibility rules and requirements, non-EU temporary residents enjoy a slightly secure status and near-equal rights as PL citizens.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Non-EU residents become eligible for long-term residence under similar rules as across Europe
  • They must wait 5 years on a particular permit without leaving Poland for over 6 months

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The conditions follow the basic requirements down in EU law
  • To become EU long-term residents, applicants must have a stable and regular source of income 
  • They face administrative fees that can be high by PL standards

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • According to the law, applicants should be relatively secure in their status in PL as on average in Europe
  • The procedure should be relatively short and lead to a 5-or-10-year permanent permit
  • Most Central European countries have greater problems than PL with discretionary conditions (e.g. HU, SK, LV)
  • While a long-term resident can travel back and forth to their home country, they cannot stay for more than a year

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • In PL, like 29 other countries, long-term residents should enjoy equal access to employment, education, social benefits in order to increase their integration in the country

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

PL is home to 57,730 permanently settled non-EU citizens. 84% are national permanent residents and 16% are EU long-term residents with the right to live and work in other EU Member States.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Majority of residents with <1-year-permits, potentially ineligible for long-term residence
  • Around half are newcomers with <5 years residence in CY, NO, SE (also high in JP, KR, TU)
  • Mostly humanitarian or family migrants likely to settle in US and Northwest Europe
  • Only option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation in countries with restrictive naturalisation policies (e.g. Baltics, Central Europe, AT, IT, ES, CH)

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

The situation in Poland is similar to a few other Central European countries with small long-settled immigrant communities and inclusive residence policies (CZ, SK, SI). Based on the total number of non-EU citizens in the country, the vast majority (86%) of non-EU citizens appear to be national or EU long-term residents, according to 2013 data. Still, the number of long-term residents seems small in comparison to the large number of short-term temporary permits issued. The number of permanent residents strongly reflects countries' path to permanent residence and citizenship. Countries that traditionally restricted naturalisation but facilitated permanent residence (as the 'second-class citizenship' alternative) end up with very high numbers of permanent resident foreigners (e.g. PL and other Central European countries). The numbers in PL will change if more permanent residents are able to pass the new requirements for PL citizenship.

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

New secure path to dual nationality must work in practice

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become a citizen?

As in several other Central European countries, most of the non-EU-born are long-settled in Poland, coming from neighbouring countries with ethnic or family ties. As such, approximately 90% have already taken up Polish citizenship, according to 2011/2 estimates.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

The path to citizenship used to be slightly unfavourable for integration in Poland, as in most Central European countries. The 2009 Citizenship Law aimed to create a new 'open vision of nationality' in preparation of Poland's ratification of the 1997 European Convention on Nationality. Immigrants were allowed to apply sooner and become dual nationals through a new 'recognition' procedure, limiting the role of the Polish President. Notwithstanding the President's veto, the Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, which entered into force on 15 August 2012. The reform nearly doubled Poland’s MIPEX score on nationality. Its new path to citizenship is 'halfway' favourable for promoting integration and 'average' compared to the established countries of immigration. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Many immigrants and their descendants are still kept ineligible for citizenship under the new Law
  • Permanent residents can apply after 3–not 5 years–of uninterrupted permanent residence (de facto 8 total–one year longer and less flexible than the European average) 
  • No specific entitlement exists for children born or raised in Poland, who only become Polish citizens if a parent does (see instead CZ, DE and Nordics)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Immigrants must meet roughly the same conditions for Polish citizenship as before the new Law 
  • Before, applicants could not prepare for the poorly defined Polish language interview; now they have study guides for the new standardised B1 (high level) test, but not enough guaranteed free courses to pass
  • The right to courses, a wider range of diploma/interview options and a more attainable test level could work better to stimulate language learning (see Nordics, NZ, PT)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • The new 'recognition' procedure run by regional governors (Voivods) provides a level of security that MIPEX finds to be favourable for integration (see box)
  • Applicants meeting the requirements are entitled to Polish citizenship, which is as secure for naturalised citizens as for all other Polish citizens

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • Dual nationality is no longer a discretionary exception made by the authorities, but a right guaranteed for all, as is increasingly the case in the majority of MIPEX countries

Policy Box

Before the 2009 reform, the naturalisation procedure was long (2-3 years on average), vague and entirely discretionary. Now the procedure is short (1 month), rights-based and subject to judicial review (see also DE, NL, Nordics and PT). This entitlement gives applicants the certainty that they need to prepare for and pass the requirements. Authorities only focus on whether or not applicants meet the requirements or represent a threat to 'safety, defence and public order'. Rejected applicants learn why and can appeal, as in most MIPEX countries.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

In 2012, 1,683 non-EU citizens became Polish citizens. Over the past decade, the total number of naturalisations has fluctuated between 1,000-3,000 and risen in recent years. Most were residents abroad with ethnic, historical or family ties to Poland (e.g. former USSR, DE, IL, CA, BG, US).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • Most from countries allowing dual nationality in Southern Europe, Western Europe & Baltics
  • New and small country of immigration with few eligible to naturalise
  • Most long-settled have already naturalised

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

Poland has one of the highest naturalisation rates for non-EU citizen men and women in Europe (8.0 in 2012), alongside Hungary and several Western European countries. Poland's traditionally high naturalisation rates seem unrelated to immigrant integration, as most naturalised citizens are not immigrants, but residents abroad benefiting from special naturalisation privileges. Statistics from 2013 and 2014 will confirm whether Poland's new reform works in practice.


Key Findings

Time for enforcement: 2010 Equal Treatment Act is one of the youngest in Europe, while victims wanting to use the law receive less help than in most countries from the weak equality body and equality policies

Potential Beneficiaries

Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?

Discrimination exists in PL as it does across Europe and the developed world. For example, 3% of people in PL felt that they had previously been discriminated against or harassed based on their ethnic origin (1.5%) and/or religion/beliefs (1.3%), according to comparable 2012 Eurobarometer data.

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

With passage of the 2010 Equal Treatment Act, PL citizens and residents were one of the last in Europe to get the dedicated anti-discrimination measures promised under EU law, which doubled CZ's score from 28 in 2009 to 52 in 2011. PL, like other Central European countries, has had to make the greatest progress by creating anti-discrimination laws and an equality body (see recently CZ, HR, EE, SK). Before, residents were protected against discrimination on grounds of ethnicity and religion but only in employment. The procedures to enforce these weak laws were slightly below average. Potential victims had to bring forward a case themselves, with no independent advice or investigative assistance from an equality body. 

Since 2010, residents benefit from strong mechanisms to enforce the law and more equal protections in all areas of life. However, non-reporting is still the norm on discrimination in PL as across Central Europe. Not only are victims confronted with a young law still weak in a few areas, but also they can receive less help in PL than in most countries from its weak equality body and weak equality policies.

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • The 2010 law created basic definitions of discrimination, with several weaknesses (PL ranked 27th out of the 38)
  • All PL residents are now protected against unequal treatment in all main areas of life, whether on grounds of ethnicity, race or religion
  • Non-EU citizens face weak protections against nationality discrimination, which is more understood in PL as national origin rather than citizenship
  • Gaps also emerge on multiple discrimination, racial profiling, and discrimination on assumed/associated characteristics (in Europe see e.g. BG, DE, SE, UK)

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • Residents in PL and 29 other countries can bring forward cases of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination in all areas of life
  • PL took the 'minimum' horizontal approach currently under negotiation at EU level since 2007
  • Non-EU citizens could benefit from clear prohibitions of nationality discrimination in all areas of life, as in 16 countries, including several in Central Europe

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • Victims can now benefit from strong mechanisms to access justice (+38 points from 2009 to 2011)
  • Potential victims now benefit from sharing the burden of proof, the use of statistics as evidence, a stronger role for equality NGOs and the use of class actions
  • Gaps still exist in the law on actio popularis (see 12 countries, e.g. BG, HR, HU, RO, SK) and the use of situation testing (in Europe see e.g. BG, FR, HU, NL, RO, SK, UK)

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • The public is not encouraged to use the law or fight discrimination more broadly in society, with PL's equality policies ranked 31st out of 38
  • The Ombud's Office was appointed with weaker powers than bodies in 24 other countries (like EE, IT, LT, see instead Nordic countries, BG, HU, RO)
  • The work of Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment has started to lead to state actions on equality but with few commitments (e.g. Diversity Charter, Diversity Charter, general information campaigns on equal treatment) 

Real beneficiaries

How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?

No reliable official statistics exist on the number of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination cases brought to justice. The number of individual complaints received by the Ombud reached just 141 in 2013, with 99 for racial/ethnic discrimination and 42 for religious discrimination. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases

  • Only 1/3 of general public know their rights as discrimination victims in PL, a problem across Central Europe
  • Low levels of trust in police and justice system in Central Europe
  • Non-EU citizens are mostly newcomers and foreign citizens and thus less likely to report discrimination incidents

Outcome indicators

How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?

Non-reporting is still the norm on discrimination, especially in Central Europe and PL. While an estimated 3% of the PL public thought they experienced racial, ethnic or religious discrimination in 2012, only 1/3 of the PL public knew their rights as discrimination victims and only 1 official complaint was submitted for every 6,000+ potential victims. Reporting seems just as low in DE and most Central and Southeast European countries (BG, CZ, EE, RO).