Policy Performance


Economic Policies

Recovering steadily after a period of slowdown, Poland falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 24) in the area of economic policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.5 points since 2014.

The country’s economic growth continued, facilitated by strong domestic consumption, low inflation and considerable EU investment. Unemployment rates have fallen significantly in recent years, though the employment rate remains below the EU-15 average. Regional variations are strong.

Public labor-market expenditures are relatively low. Income taxes are progressive, and VAT and social-insurance contribution rates are high. Corporate taxes exceed the regional norm. Steady growth and spending restraints have enabled deficits to be substantially reduced in the last half-decade.

The R&D system has been restructured, and spending is rising, but the country still scores poorly on innovation rankings. Supervision of the banking sector has improved, and stress tests indicate financial-sector stability.

Social Policies

With mixed strengths and weaknesses, Poland receives a middling overall score (rank 23) with respect to social policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point relative to 2014.

Education reforms have increased the focus on mathematics and sciences, seeking to respond to labor-market demands. Vocational education has been further strengthened. Inequality rates have fallen and severe poverty has been successfully addressed.

The near-universal public health-insurance program covers only a limited range of services, and quality is often low. The government failed to pass comprehensive health reforms. Strong focus has been placed on expanding child-care facilities, but women’s employment rates remain low.

Retirement ages have been increased, improving pension-system sustainability. A new migration law has eased some integration challenges, but institutions for dealing with immigrants are undeveloped. The country secured a waiver from the EU refugee-quota system, but ultimately agreed to admit thousands of refugees.

Environmental Policies

As a reluctant follower within the EU, Poland falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 25) with regard to environmental policy. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

While the country has broadly adopted EU environmental standards, a political consensus prioritizes economic growth over environmental protection. Successive governments have sought to protect the coal industry. Renewable-energy sources account for just 1% of production. The government has plans to build a nuclear-power station and has engaged in shale-gas exploration.

The country has been one of the primary critics of the EU’s climate policy and emissions-trading system. Political elite fear that ambitious climate-protection regimes will mean a loss of energy independence and the imposition of burdens on the country’s economy.



Quality of Democracy

Showing a series of strengths during the review period, Poland receives a high overall ranking (rank 9) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure is unchanged relative to 2014.

Parties depend heavily on public funding, and monitoring is strict despite some weak points. Referendums and signature-gathering drives have become more frequent. While the media is diverse and largely independent, public-media oversight is somewhat politicized. Penal-code provisions are sometimes used against journalists, chilling investigative reporting.

Protection of civil rights has been strong, if hampered somewhat by court delays. A comprehensive anti-discrimination law was recently implemented, with a broad government program on the issue adopted in 2013.

Legal certainty has been significant despite often-incomprehensible legislation. Though courts have generally been independent, controversy over Constitutional Tribunal appointments flared even before the review period’s end. Several corruption scandals emerged, showing in part the success of strengthened anti-corruption monitoring.



Executive Capacity

With strong prime-ministerial leadership, Poland scores well overall (rank 9) in the area of executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point since 2014.

Strategic-planning capabilities and Chancellery sectoral-policy expertise have been significantly expanded. The Chancellery reviews all draft bills, and has increasingly collaborated with line ministries in their preparation. Informal coordination minimizes governing-coalition conflict.

RIAs are mandatory, but are sometimes superficial. Sustainability is not an integral part of the review. The government is legally required to consult groups affected by legislation, but consultation has often been purely formal. Institutional governing arrangements are regularly monitored.

The government has produced a mixed record of success on major policy reforms. Subnational governments’ funding shortfalls have been alleviated using EU funds. The country has played an increasingly influential role in international policy coordination, particularly within the EU.

Executive Accountability

With a particularly strong legislative performance, Poland falls into the middle ranks (rank 22) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point since 2014.

Parliamentarians have ample resources, and strong formal executive-oversight powers. The audit office is independent and effective, while the ombuds office has substantial investigative powers but lacks sufficient resources to handle new responsibilities.

Citizens’ policy knowledge remains low on average, in part due to often-superficial media coverage and populist propaganda. However, print publications do provide in-depth information, and television news coverage has improved in quality.

While public funding obligates parties to demonstrate democratic internal governance, most are in fact hierarchically organized. Economic-interest associations are relatively active and developed. Unions have resisted government reforms. Most noneconomic interest associations are comparatively small.
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