Poland - Country Report: Legal and Policy Framework of Migration Governance
Monika Szulecka, Marta Pachocka and Karolina Sobczak-Szelc | Centre of Migration Research, University of Warsaw
The history of immigration to and emigration from contemporary Poland as a social phenomenon dates back to 1989. Geopolitical changes in the region brought the ‘opening’ of Poland’s borders, which in turn contributed to the growing scale of mobility both from and to Poland. Moreover, Poland, as a country on the way from the East to the West also became a transit country both for migrants travelling due to economic reasons and also to asylum seekers. This report presents the socio-economic, political, legal, institutional and policy context of migration governance in Poland.
By analysing legal acts, official documents and available statistical data, we try to analyse macro level factors determining migration management in Poland. The report is divided into seven parts. In the first part, on the basis of statistical data, we conclude that the population of asylum seekers and refugees in Poland is strictly determined by the region of origin of foreigners seeking protection. For more than two decades, refugees have mostly originated from the Caucasus region (formally part of the Soviet Union). Moreover, the available statistics show that the number of asylum seekers is stable and not influenced by the so-called ‘migration crisis’. Rather than a ‘migration crisis’, military conflicts and political and economic disturbances in countries along Poland’s Eastern borders have largely shaped the structure of immigration to Poland and the population of persons seeking protection. The distinctive feature of migration control instruments in the context of Polish asylum policies is a relatively high number of refusals of entry, which raises concerns about access to asylum procedures.
In the analysis of the legal, socio-economic, political and cultural context, which is described in parts two and four, we can observe that during the past 25 years the situation has improved. Therefore, Poland became more and more attractive for foreigners, especially in terms of its labour market. The attractiveness of Poland as a country of destination increased along with its accession to the European Union and joining the Schengen area. Simultaneously, EU accession also contributed significantly to the outflow of Polish nationals to EU labour markets. The growing frequency of immigration to Poland and Polish labour migration within the EU precipitated the formulation of new migration policies and legislation aimed at managing these migration flows in ways most profitable for the Polish state and its economy.
In part three, we focus on the constitutional organisation of the state and the constitutional entrenchment of the principle of asylum. We argue that the ongoing constitutional and judiciary crisis mentioned in this part may constitute threats to the rule of law and protection of human rights. Since 2015, the Polish government has been refusing to implement relocation and resettlement schemes proposed by the European Commission within the framework of the European Agenda on Migration. Nonetheless, the Constitution refers to the protection of refugees, and the execution of this right is regulated by the Law on Protection of 2003, which is the main act regulating access to the asylum procedure and the proceedings and form of protection granted to foreigners. Part five of this report describes the details of various statuses, ranging from asylum seekers (with a focus on the reception system), beneficiaries of international protection to regular migrants and undocumented migrants. This part describes the conditions for gaining certain statuses, rights and obligations linked to certain statuses as well as the circumstances in which a given status may be revoked. The last, seventh part, of the report discusses the planned amendments to the law driven by the refugee crisis. We argue that in the case of Poland the changes or reform proposals are rather linked to challenges observed in the context of inflow from the Caucasus than in the context of inflow from the Middle East or Africa, associated with the ‘refugee crisis’. This part also provides supplemental information on the development of migration and asylum policies presented in part four.
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