Ambassador of Poland to the European Union
"PROBLEMS CONCERNING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS ACQUIS BY THE CANDIDATE COUNTRIES: A POLISH VIEW"
Closing Lecture in the Cicero Foundation Great Debate seminar on "Justice and Home Affairs - How to Implement the Amsterdam Treaty?", PARIS, 13-14 April 2000
PART I - INTRODUCTION
Poland presented its application for membership in the European Union on 5 April 1994, a year after the European Council in Copenhagen (June 1993) formulated the member criteria for the applicant countries. Having in mind the subject which is discussed today, the most important for the candidate country is to achieve stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for protection of minorities. These criteria can be understood as the general requirements of Justice and Home Affairs.
The co-operation between associated countries and the European Union in the field of Justice and Home Affairs was mentioned for the first time in December 1993 in the letter addressed to the President of the European Council, Mr. Willy Claes, by the British and Italian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, respectively Douglas Hurd and Beniamino Andreatta. The goal of the so called "Hurd-Andreatta initiative", as well as of the second letter of foreign ministers (Hurd/Martino letter) from July 1994, was to strengthen and constantly intensify political dialogue with the associated countries under the conditions laid down in the conclusions of the Copenhagen European Council. The ministers proposed "to develop new links between the associated countries and the work of the two intergovernmental pillars of Maastricht, on CFSP and Justice/Home Affairs".
The Ministerial Conference on Drugs and Organised Crime in Berlin on 8 September 1994 was a very important initial step, convened at the recommendation of the European Council of Corfu. It was the first time that the ministers of Justice and Home Affairs from the Central and Eastern European countries were invited to meet their colleagues from the EU and the associated countries. The common declaration adopted at the conference sets out the common priorities and emphasises the necessity of co-operation both with regard to the prospect of accession by the associated countries to the EU and the new challenges emerging in Europe (transfrontier organised crime, increased illegal manufacturing and traffic of psychotropic substances). The co-operation was focused on combating following serious forms of crime: illicit drug traffic and nuclear crime, traffic in human beings, illegal immigration networks, illegal transfer of motor vehicles and the crime of money laundering in connection with these forms of crime.
Co-operation between Poland and the European Union in the Justice and Home Affairs area acquired a new dimension when Poland applied for membership of the EU (8 April 1994). From that time Poland developed the structures in its ministries as well as co-ordinating body (similar to those existing in some of the member states) and increased the co-operation with the EU institutions.
The period between 1994 and the beginning of the negotiations has been marked by a number of initiatives and important documents. Let me indicate some of them:
- Poland's expectations for integration with the EU (1994);
- The Final Declaration of the Ministers of Home Affairs of the Weimar Triangle (1994);
- The response to the British-Italian initiative (Hurd-Andreatta letter), with the list of possible fields of co-operation (995);
- The Joint Position on the co-operation between the associated countries and the EU member states and institutions in the area of JHA (1995);
- The Polish Position Paper on co-operation with the EU in the field of JHA (1996);
- The Questionnaire of the European Commission: information requested for the preparation of the opinion (AVIS) on the application for membership of the EU. The Polish answer showing the picture of home policy in Poland, the present legal and administrative structure, etc;
- The National Strategy of Integration (1997) - Part V of the document describes the scope and tried to draw up the program of the necessary steps in the way to accession in the JHA area;
- The Memorandum of the Polish Government on the modernisation of the infrastructure at the borders (1997).
The structural solution of the internal co-ordination was as follows:
- An Inter-Ministry body composed of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice - at deputy level;
- Operational Co-ordinators (MFA, MI, MJ);
- A Contact Point in the Mission of Poland to the EU.
Between 1994 and 1998 a number of meetings with the EU took place on different ministerial, under-secretary and expert level. They have given the occasion to deepen the mutual understanding of the legal bases and institutional framework of JHA and identify the most important issues to be fulfilled due to the requirements of JHA acquis. In 1996 the ministers of Justice and Home Affairs have authorised the European Commission to examine the perspectives and possibilities of the co-operation with associated countries in the Third Pillar area. The Commission has sent Anthony Langdon, as its expert, to study the situation in Poland and in some other associated countries. His report was a kind of systematic description of the situation in our country, from the legal and practical point of view. The report consisted of a hierarchical list of priorities to be done by the candidates: mechanisms of border control, fight against illegal migration, asylum policy, drugs policy, training and technical support for police and other services. The European Commission has received in this way a peculiar guidebook with the indications of the main needs for support of the initiatives in the JHA field (bilateral co-operation, Phare Cross Border, horizontal programs).
This evaluation has proved that Poland was ready to implement the EU standards and that in some fields existed a high level of convergence with the acquis in the area of Third Pillar co-operation.
In 1997 the European Commission, according to Article O of the Maastricht Treaty, presented its opinion on the Polish application. We can find there that "Poland's political institutions function properly and in conditions of stability. Efforts to improve the operation of the judicial system and to intensify the fight against corruption will need to be sustained".
Poland has no major problems concerning the respect for fundamental rights.
Poland presents the characteristics of a democracy, with stable institutions guaranteeing the rule of law, human rights* and respect for and protection of minorities. Poland joined the Council of Europe in 1991 and has ratified the most important instruments concerning human rights. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary according to the rule of law.
Because of its geographical position (bordering the EU, several Associated countries and the NIS - New Independent States) its size and difficulties in the reform process of main fields, Poland is facing some significant challenges in the JHA sector. Poland has begun to take major steps to tackle them. Most part of the necessary domestic legislation and international conventions are implemented, but important work still needs to be carried out on data protection and issues such as aliens law. Polish visa policy towards the NIS is a matter of concern, the Opinion mentioned.
Institutional reform in JHA area is well under way and significant progress has been made, but there is still a need to upgrade the capacity of the Polish institutions measuring up to the tasks of the JHA acquis. The size and geographical position of Poland at a cross-roads of migratory and trade flows in Central Europe poses a particular challenge.
That was the situation evaluated in 1997. The final conclusion was that Poland is facing significant challenges in the JHA field, particularly concerning drugs, border management, migration and transnational crime. Provided that continuing efforts are made to improve the situation Poland could be able to meet the Justice and Home Affairs acquis (present and future) in the next few years.
Experts' Mission 1998
The general Justice and Home affairs experts' mission took place in June 1998. The objective of this mission was to create an in-depth analytical paper elaborating on the current state of JHA in Poland. The Mission has had as a task not only to indicate the gaps or weaknesses in the Polish law or institutional and technical infrastructure, but also to assist in the strategic planning of Phare financing.
The general conclusions were as follows:
1. In the field of asylum and migration - although the institutional framework is in place - communication and collaboration between the different authorities handling asylum and migration should be improved, as well as some definitions of legal concepts within the legislation. Visa policy is problematic, due to the sensitive nature of relations with Eastern neighbours.
2. As regards Border Management, the Polish border checking operation is not yet in line with the requirements of the Schengen acquis. However the structure of the Border Guard is quite effective, as well as the equipment is satisfactory in some areas (some improvement is necessary, particularly in computer equipment). Co-operation with neighbouring countries is on a satisfactory level.
3. Regarding Police, the Polish Law on Police is in line with EU legislation. However, the structure of the police organisation should be simplified for more effective management and communication. An important problem is the budget of the Police. In the field of Organised Crime the situation is not yet under control, although the authorities have the will and the technical potential to improve it. Money laundering is the significant problem.
4. Concerning the Judiciary, there is the need to make progress in equipment, training, linguistic skills, and administrative effectiveness.
The report was a first horizontal, detailed evaluation which gave a first view of the work to be done in the future. It became one of the instruments to elaborate priorities for the Polish administration and to indicate the most sensitive sectors where the financial support should be aimed at.
PART II - CHALLENGES
Accession Partnership and The National Programme of Preparation for Membership
Two new instruments - the Accession Partnership and its Polish equivalent, the National Programme of Preparation for Membership - are important components of the general strategy on the way to membership. Accession Partnership recommends to make an effort in all areas identified in the Opinion. In the JHA sector the most important is not only approximation of the legislation, but in the same time the real implementation of EU standards. Therefore the Accession Partnership and the National Program of Preparation for Membership define every year short and medium term priorities to be realised by the Polish administration.
The Accession Partnership indicates as short term priorities:
- the adoption and implementation of the national integrated inter-agency border management strategy with particular attention to the budgetary requirements of the eastern border;
- a strengthening of the national co-ordination body for all law enforcement services at central, regional and local level;
- the upgrading of institutional capacity regarding the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking;
- the implementation of anti-corruption and anti-fraud programmes;
- a strengthening of the capacity to deal with money laundering.
Medium term priorities are:
- to further upgrade the law enforcement bodies and the judiciary (staff numbers, training and equipment), in particular concerning border control and illegal immigration, to enable full participation in the Schengen Information System, to ensure better co-ordination between law enforcement bodies,n as well as the continuation of the fight against organised crime, trafficking in women and children, drug trafficking and corruption,
- continuing progressive alignment of visa legislation and practice with that of EU,
- strengthening of police co-operation mechanisms with Europol in the fight against organised crime,
- aligning of legislation and administrative capacity for implementation of the asylum and migration acquis, for full reciprocal co-operation with the EU,
- implementation of the integrated border strategy.
Having embraced the priorities of the "Accession Partnership" and acting in accordance with those projected by the National Programme of Preparations for Membership of the European Union, Poland attaches particular importance to matters of the Third Pillar. In this connection, actions are now being conducted to commit Poland fully - at latest upon the country's accession to the EU - to co-operation with the other member states in all aspects of Justice and Home Affairs. The actions in question focus on the harmonisation of Poland's visa regime with that of the EU, on ensuring the functioning of a secured border - especially in the East, which will become the external border of the Union - creating a watertight immigrant control system, combating organised crime and drug trafficking, and on effective judicial co-operation, including mutual recognition of court rulings in civil and criminal cases.
The Regular Report of 1998
In its Opinion of July 1997 the Commission drew attention to the challenges facing Poland on drugs, border control, immigration and international crime.
One of the short-term priorities in the Accession Partnership was better border control, particularly with Belarus and Ukraine, and alignment on the EU's visa arrangements. Progress has been recorded in both these areas.
Broadly speaking, Poland has made progress in most areas since the Commission's Opinion. The exception is the fight against drugs, where a great deal of effort still needs to be made.
To achieve the Partnership's medium-term objectives, however, these gains, where they take the form of adoption of legislation, need to be followed up swiftly by implementing provisions (e.g. the data protection act and the aliens act), better administrative organisation and additional resources, particularly in the area of asylum and organised crime.
The Regular Report of 1999
In 1999 the Commission reproached the Polish administration that only very modest progress has been made in terms of legislative efforts over the last year in JHA and in general terms. But in 1999 Poland has begun four large national reforms - administrative, health, national insurance, education. Nevertheless the Commission indicates that Poland needs to address bigger effort in the short term in particular the comprehensive reform of the legislation on foreigners (admission requirements), visa policy, conclusion of re-admission agreements. Further efforts are required to ensure a more active policy in the fight against drugs. The internal organisations of the law enforcement bodies and the judiciary require considerable improvement. Human and financial resources and equipment should be improved. Particular attention should be paid to develop capacity for international co-operation, both within law enforcement and the judiciary.
As regards the implementation, the European Commission estimated that progress has been achieved by the Border Guard, especially in respect of the joint work with Germany on the common border. However, in the absence of any strategic overall plan for bringing the Eastern border up to the level of a future external EU border it is not currently possible to estimate when this can be achieved.
The Co-operation Between the EU and Poland: Common Instruments
Seven years of bilateral relations between Poland and the EU (as well as with other associated countries) show, in my opinion, a moderation from the EU partners' side concerning the active development of legal instruments to deepen the co-operation with the candidates. Poland several times submittedproposals concerning the creation of more institutionalised framework of co-operation in the Third Pillar area, in different forms: association (case of Schengen), parallel instruments to the EU ones (ex. of EU conventions which are only open for the member-states), active participation in the Title VI programmes (Odysseus, Grotius, Falcone, Stop, Oisin).
Very recently the Council of EU Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs took a decision on the mandate for Europol to negotiate the bilateral agreements with third countries. Poland has been ready to co-operate on a formal basis from the beginning of Europol's activity. It happens too often that procedural obstacles decrease the effectiveness of the co-operation in a field, that is one of the EU's major priorities.
On the other hand it would be unfair not to show positive examples.
Poland participates in the framework of an informal forum for information and consultation on matters related to asylum - CIREA - as well as in a forum for immigration and frontiers - CIREFI . Both facilitate co-ordination and harmonisation of asylum policies and practice, exchange of information about migration situations and tendencies. However, that is an example of co-operation which could be deepened. CIREA and CIREFI are bodies without any decision-making power. It is only a useful exchange of information and experiences, because of their multi-country character. That's why we consider that full participation of the candidates is fully justified. The present model - one meeting each presidency - leaves the impression of a one way flow of information.
The Pre-Accession Pact on Organised Crime is one of the most important common instruments. The origin of the Pact derives from the Action Plan endorsed by the Amsterdam European Council (June 1997) which has been the Union's response to the challenge posed by the global growth of organised crime. Recommendation No.3 of the Action Plan indicated the necessity of working out a common instrument aiming at approximation of actions preparing associated countries for accession. The Pre-Accession Pact, signed on 28 of May 1998, gives the political "green light" to start more effective co-operation. The Pact underlines the threats resulting from organised crime, as well as the significance of a practical co-operation to fight its symptoms. As necessary components to make this co-operation possible, the document draws attention to a number of internal and international conditions which should be fulfilled:
- an efficiently structured police administration, with powers of action, trained staff and technical equipment;
- a suitably empowered justice system, operating on the basis of modern substantive and procedural standards;
- a practical ability of the law enforcement authorities to combat organised crime, including drugs crime and international arms trafficking, preventing money laundering;
- sufficient means of prevention in the fight against drug abuse
- ratification of at least a part of the instruments (as specified in Recommendation No. 13 of the Action Plan):
* The European Convention on Extradition (Paris 1997);
* The Protocol to he European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Strasbourg, 1978);
* The Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (Strasbourg 1990);
* The Convention on the Fight against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Vienna, 1988);
* The European Convention on Suppression of Terrorism (Strasbourg, 1977).
All these elements exist and are operational in Poland. Poland is ready to co-operate in all forums on the basis of functioning legal instruments and services. Of course there is a lot of work to be done. There is not sufficient technical equipment, there are not sufficient law enforcement instruments, there is a not sufficient level of efficiency of the judiciary (all our countries meet the same problems) - mozliwa dygresja nt. studium przeprowadzonego przez jeden z uniwersytetów amsterdamskich na temat wydolnosci sadów w pįnstwach czlonkowskich I kandydujacych, o którym wspominal Pan Ambasador.
Formally the Pre-Accession Pact provides the intensification of co-operation for example with Europol or Title VI programmes, as instruments which can play a key role in the co-operation leading to the effective fight against organised crime. In practice, very often, it does not happen as there is not enough determination of the Union.
It is probably too early to evaluate the Pact. It is undoubtedly an important political instrument which, however, could be better used as the legal base for institutionalisation of our co-operation.
We are looking forward to the next Pre-Accession Pact Expert Group meeting which, after one year of silence (it is the task of Presidency to initiate and organise meetings), will take place in May 2000.
The Screening Process and the Polish Position Paper for JHA Negotiations
The screening took place in March 1999. This exercise was focused on the legal instruments concerning visas, based on First Pillar provisions and on the framework for co-operation, set out in Title VI (Article K) of the Treaty on European Union (Third Pillar) and consisted of the presentation of the national legislation in the matter. The explanatory session of the EU questions and Polish answers facilitated the overall review of the stage of readiness of Poland to fulfil the obligations of the acquis. The screening has been a preparatory stage before the presentation of the Polish position paper which was presented to the European Union on 14 October 1999. Generally Poland accepts the acquis, including the Schengen acquis and does not intend to request any transitional arrangements. However, there are some instruments to which Poland will not accede because of its invisible usefulness (lack of ratification) among Member States. It concerns the European Convention on the international validity of criminal judgements (The Hague, 1970), the European Convention on the transfer of proceedings in criminal matters (Strasbourg, 1972) and the Agreement on illicit traffic by sea, adopted in Strasbourg on 31 January 1995, implementing Article 17 of the UN Convention against the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (ratified only by 2 countries).
Poland is ready to undertake the necessary measures aimed at full implementation and application of the acquis into the internal legal system before the working date of accession to the EU - 1 January 2003 - due to the harmonisation schedule included in the Accession Partnership.
|* Permit for
|* Permit for
(up to 2 years, may be renewed )
|Permit introduced||by the Aliens||Act||(entered into force 27.12.1997)||4882||16.709|
|* Permit for
|Permit introduced||by the Aliens||Act||(entered into force 27.12.1997)||277||495|
The presented data reflect a growing number of immigrants. One of the interesting phenomena observed in the 90's, especially in the first half, was the significant growth of returning nationals. Also, according to the statistics, the number of departing Poles has remained much lower than the number of arriving foreigners.
The National Labour Office has signalled a growing irregular work of citizens coming from the Western European countries (Germany, France and the Netherlands) - in most cases in connection with large investment projects in wholesale trade and supermarket chains. In the north-western part of Poland occasional irregular work is also relatively common among German citizens who live in the neighbouring land of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg. The strongest demand on the part of employers is for labour prepared to perform 3-D jobs (dirty-difficult-dangerous).
In 1998 and 1999, thanks to new legal instruments and more effective police activity, there has been symptoms of a decline in illegal entries to Poland.
Poland is in the final stage to adopt the uniform EU migration and asylum policy. The Aliens Act in force from 27 December 1997 was a milestone in that process. The Act regulates entry, residence and work in Poland. It stipulates that aliens have the same rights as Polish citizens. It further aims at laying the foundation for a single and cohesive immigration policy vis-ą-vis foreigners, while making sure that their rights are protected. It lays down the principles and procedures concerning the issuing of visas for foreigners, invitations to aliens wishing to enter Poland, residence permits for set periods and permanent residence permits, travel documents and temporary travel documents, awarding the refugee status, political asylum, expulsion of aliens from the territory of the Republic of Poland, the registers of aliens undesirable in Poland, registers of the aforesaid invitations, and other records, registers and rolls provided for by the Act. The law extracts more effectiveness from the law enforcement agencies in their struggle with illegal immigration and illegal stays of aliens in Poland. It provides legal regulations enabling free development of tourism and encouraging unrestricted business travel, while equipping state organs with powers of counteracting the influx of unwelcome foreigners. An amendment of the Aliens Act is foreseen for adoption in autumn 2000 - which will allow the full compatibility with the acquis communautaire by the end of 2002.
In order to adjust the Polish visa policy to the acquis communautaire (EC Regulation no. 574/1999 determining the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders of the Member State) it is necessary to introduce an obligation to obtain a visa for citizens of a number of countries where Poland has free visa agreements. There are in most cases technical problems, but in two cases - Russia and Ukraine - highly political ones. Despite this Poland declares, according to the detailed schedule drawn in the NPAA, the full conformity with the acquis by the day of accession.
There is still a need to amend the Act of Aliens which is envisaged in the second part of the year (more details here below).
Border protection, as well as organisation and execution of border traffic control are the tasks of the Border Guard - a homogeneous, uniformed and armed police type formation. Customs control is carried out by the customs services that operate under the Ministry of Finance. Two hundred and forty border crossings (of all types, including airports) exist presently in Poland. By the end of 2002 about 20 new ones will be established on the eastern border. About 15.000 border guards are employed out of close to 19.000 available posts.
Poland has bilateral agreements on border co-operation with all its neighbouring countries. There are joint patrols and joint border checks with Germany. This co-operation includes exchange of information on a daily basis, common training and exchange of liasion officers. Poland constantly develops co-operation with other countries: the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine. After a very difficult period in 1995-1997, due to the efforts of the Lithuanian authorities, the situation on the Polish - Lithuanian border from 1998 on improved and has contributed to the decrease of cross-border crime related to illegal migration.
The main risks existing in Poland are: organised forms of smuggling goods - primarily alcohol and cigarettes -, smuggling of stolen cars, and illegal migration of citizens of African and Asian countries with the intention to reach Western Europe.
The number of persons detained for illegal border crossing fell down:
- with Russia: 66 in 1998; 17 during the first six months 1999;
- with Lithuania: 457 in 1997; 341 in 1998; 26 during the first six months 1999;
- with Belarus: 109 in 1998; 32 during the six first months 1999;
- with Ukraine: 436 in 1998; 167 during the six first months 1999;
- with Slovakia: 747 in 1998; 217 during the six first months 1999.
Taking into account the persons detained for crossing the Polish state border in violation of applicable regulations, all figures show a decline - from 1% (Slovakia) to 77% (Belarus) - except an 38% increase (Ukraine). As smuggling of goods (excluding cars) is concerned, the total decline in 1999 in comparison to 1998 is 31%.
There are, of course, not final and satisfactory results, but all the efforts made by the border administration and services, the constant increase of technical equipment and integrated policy of the border management illustrate the positive tendencies.
Strategy on Integrated Border Management
The Strategy is an answer tot he expectations formulated by the EU towards the candidates. The basic objective of the Strategy is to determine the tasks which are indispensable for the Polish Eastern border to become the external border of the EU by 31 December 2002.
The perspective of Poland's accession to the EU within three years calls for a strategic and systematic attitude towards the problem of management of the future external border. The Strategy also maps out the most important tasks connected with shifting of the customs clearance to the future external border of the Union.
After Poland's accession, the Polish - German border will become an internal one. If Poland and the Czech Republic accede the EU at the same time, then also this border will have an internal character. The external border will consist of the present Polish-Slovak, Polish-Ukrainian, Polish -Byelorussian, Polish-Lithuanian and Polish-Russian (Kallinigrad). Two of them - with Slovakia and Lithuania - will sooner or later also become internal ones. All these aspects should determine the level and directions of investment projects co-financed by the EU.
While protecting an external border of the Union, Poland will have to guarantee a proper protection against an undesirable flow of persons and goods and, at the same time, maintain good relations with the neighbouring states staying outside the EU.
The strategy is the first horizontal construction, involving all the interested parties, services and administrations to achieve the goals mentioned above. It contains the description of detailed tasks and responsibilities, defines roles with respect to the structural border management, main targets (what has to be attended in order to be able to operate fully within EU structures) and finally their indirect objectives.
The Strategy defines the principles of planning and allocation of funds for the establishment of the border infrastructure, describes and prospects cross-border and regional co-operation with all neighbours.
The Strategy has been presented, as a draft, to the European Commission in February 2000 and, I may say, it was highly appreciated, what has not been very often the case in our relations with the Union in the JHA area. The final version of the Strategy will be approved by the Polish Government soon.
After the incorporation of the Schengen acquis into the EU framework (partly into the acquis communautaire; partly into the Third Pillar), the practical terms of this acquis became unclear for the candidate states. Before Amsterdam (The Treaty entered into force May, 1st, 1999), the Schengen co-operation was a sort of "co-operation reinforce". Based on the new Treaty in force - except for Great Britain and Ireland, which have special protocols providing them the possibility to stay outside the system - it is an obligation for all member states. But the experience of Greece, Austria, Sweden or Finland shows that the evaluation process made by the Schengen Evaluation Group can even take years. We are still waiting for a clear position of the EU. Independently of the EU position regarding the procedure of implementing the Schengen acquis, Poland wants to fulfil all the obligations as soon as possible.
Polish reforms and adaptations are under way with the important assistance of Phare. The new Phare 2000 programme worked out by the Polish Border Guard is focused on the upgrading of the equipment (computers, software, etc) and the installation of the appropriate communication systems. It will create a Polish eastern border which is fully operational in terms of the Schengen requirements.
Poland, as it was already mentioned, will adjust the legislation concerning the visa regime and amend the Act of Aliens to be fully in accordance with the Schengen requirements (Schengen Agreement, Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement). According to the draft, the new law provides: the creation of the Repatriation and Aliens Office, responsible for all administrative actions towards foreigners, measures concerning rights and obligations for aliens, measures treating family reunification, introduction of airport transit visa, the creation of a National Information System (the future base for NSIS). The new Act of Aliens will introduce a unified format of visa, according to the Council Regulation from 29 May 1995.
All proposed modifications extend the rights for aliens coming in and staying in the territory of Poland by a number of institutional and administrative instruments. The new system will be simplified, more effective and fully compatible with Schengen.
Organised Crime, Drugs, Police Co-operation
It is true that organised crime has grown significantly since 1989, especially in the fields of economic crime, drug trafficking and production, counterfeiting, illegal trade in arms, trafficking in women, stolen cars, money laundering and extortion.
The Polish legislations are largely convergent with the EU acquis in the area. We expect a fast conclusion of the agreement with Europol which is possible after the decision of the JHA Council meeting on 27 March 2000.
In the same time Poland is a party to the all international conventions and participates in all international activities in the fight against crime. Our domestic legal and institutional framework against drugs has been reformed, including the National Drugs Prevention Programme and Information System and new legislative measures including controlled deliveries and an overall law covering drug prevention. Since January 1999, when the reform of administration entered into force, the services for combating organised crime and drug enforcement services have been centralised and subordinated to the Police Chief Commander. They carry out their duties through regional offices, also included into the centralised structure. This enabled more efficient operation and investigation work in cases related to drugs and those related to combating organised crime exceeding regional or national borders
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration currently works on agreements to be concluded by Poland and European Union member states on police co-operation in combating organised crime and drug trafficking. By now the agreement with Germany and the Memorandum of Understanding with Italy have been signed. The agreements with Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Spain and Finland are still in preparation. From the date of accession Poland will implement the regulations of Schengen related to police co-operation, including regulations connected with cross-border surveillance and cross-border hot pursuit.
Preventing the Theft of Cars
The economic transformation of Poland and the opening in 1990 of the borders triggered a tumultuous growth of a car market in Poland. There was a sudden rise in the numbers of new cars and new drivers. The large number of vehicle registration offices and the lack of adequate safeguards have created conditions for thefts and forgeries of vehicle registration documents and driving licenses. The Polish car market has also become a conduit for cars stolen in European countries. Local data bases and the absence of an adequate central computer system have precluded efficient controls, which was the reason of a rise in customs, treasury and insurance fraud. A number of projects embarked upon now, aims at amending existing laws and implementing a new system of vehicle registration and driver licensing and record-keeping. Central records run in the form of computerised registers are a very important element of the system. The computer systems operating these registers will improve the work of registration offices which will be handling both drivers and vehicle owners more efficiently.
Statistics of Stolen Cars.
Poland notes the high increase of this phenomenon: 29% between 1996 and 1998. In most European countries there is a decrease in this field. But if we compare the number of stolen cars by 100.000 habitants, the Polish figure is 158,2. The figures of France (appr. 550) and the Czech Republic (approx.280) are higher.
All the measures undertaken by Poland converge with a general European tendency to increase all possible actions against crime. Analysing statistical data, Poland as a big country faces the problem of crime: in some fields decreasing, in others increasing. But contrary to common opinion Poland does not seem to be a source of all dangers connected with crime or one of its biggest exporters.
Taking into account the general number of committed crimes for 100.00 habitants Poland - with 2776,3 crimes (1998) - is in the group with the lowest crime rate - in contrast to Sweden (13.518,51), England and Wales (8945,6), Germany (7867,6), Hungary (5917,4), and the Czech Republic (4196,3). Less positive is the growth rate of crime: 19% between 1996 - 1998. Only in Hungary this figure was higher: 28,7%. In other European countries it was around 1%.
Poland is situated somewhere in the middle - with 2,8 assassinations by 100.000
habitants. Italy : 4,4; Hungary: 4,3; France: 3,6; Germany: 3,5. The detection
of criminals of homicide is comparable - from 97 to 85% (Poland 85,3%,
France - 82,7%). Only in Italy this indicator is significantly low: 65,1%.
The number of robberies, assaults and violations is increasing. In 1998 Poland noted 88,5 of these crimes by 100.000 habitants (France: 143,8; Germany: 78,4; Italy: 65; Hungary: only 10,1). The positive side in the Polish case is a radical increase of detection between 1996-1998: from 51 to 59,6%.
The figure for burglary in Poland is 918,9 for 100.00 inhabitants. (Germany: 1506,8; Austria: 1011,3; France: 975,5). Poland notes the highest level of detection in this field: 25%.
Most of the countries meet the problem of an increasing number of crimes remlated to drugs (1996-1998), especially in Hungary (increase by 340%); Poland (142%). The leading countries for this kind of crime are Germany and Austria (close to 200 crimes/100.000 habitants); France (150), Italy (70), Poland (42,5).
The Fight Against and the Prevention of Money Laundering
At the beginning of 80's, West European countries initiated and continued a broad process of building a uniform system aimed at conducting methodical and, to a maximum extent, effective fight against crime of a financial nature.
By signing the Europe Agreement in 1991, Poland was obliged to adjust its law in respect of money laundering to Community requirements. It became necessary to take actions aimed at assuring compliance between Polish law and the Council Directive of 10.06.91 on prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and the requirements of the Vienna Convention on illegal trade in narcotics and psychotropic substances, ratified in 1994.
The undertaken legislation is aimed at the adoption of legal instruments enabling Poland to be bound by the Council of Europe Convention on laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds from crime. The adoption of the new penal code introducing a very broad definition of money was followed by the adoption on 29 August 1997 of the new banking law. This law contains a new regulation of banking secrecy which meets the standards of the Convention. The Polish Security Strategy
The Polish Government prepares the National Programme against crime - a new horizontal, multidisciplinary document (265 pages) which involves all services, administrations and institutions in the process of preparation of Poland to face the problem of the fight against crime and crime prevention in the Twenty-First century.
Poland experiences no specific threat from terrorism, but the Government has taken key measures against terrorism (ratification of the 1977 Strasbourg Convention; adoption of the National Security Strategy, on 4 January 2000).
The Polish legislation concerning the protection of personal data does not provide for any restrictions, such as compulsory Polish citizenship, residence requirements, obligatory trade union membership, as provided in Art. 52, 59 of the Treaty. The Personal Data Protection Act of 29 August 1997 is, to a large extent, consistent with the Directive 46/95/EC. Parliamentary acts concerning the areas which seem to be not in conformity with Community law are under way (foreseeable term for coming into force is the end of 2000).
Poland has signed (21.04.1999) the Council of Europe's Convention No. 108 of 28.01.1981 on the protection of individuals with regards to automatic processing of personal data.
Poland pays special attention to the harmonisation of the judicial system to the EU standards. The work is aimed at achieving the highest possible level of co-operation of the administration of justice in criminal and civil cases in the pre-accession phase. These activities were conducted in three main areas:
1. Preparation of the appropriate legal framework for such co-operation.
At the turn of 1998, Poland signed two international agreements which are part of the acquis of the Third Pillar or which are closely connected with that Pillar:
- the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the transfer of sentenced persons, on 18 February 1998.
- the Convention of the OECD on combating bribery of foreign officials in international transactions - on 17 December 1997.
It should also be noted that on 4 March 1998 Poland was invited to the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters. Poland ratified the Convention on 26 August 1999.
Further major changes in national law have been made in the regulations covering the combating of organised crime and corruption (the law of 25 June 1997 on the crown witness which comes into force on 1 September 1998, makes possible to obtain important evidence in criminal proceedings in return for abandoning the prosecution of and ensuring protection to accomplices who played a minor role in the crime; the law of 24 April 1997 on counteracting drug abuse which came into force on 14 October 1997 penalises i.a. the possession of drugs).
As concerns corruption, two regulations were of particular importance:
- the law of 27 June 1997 on political parties which provides for i.a. a full transparency of the finances of political parties;
- the law of 21 August 1997 on limiting the right of engaging in business activities by persons performing public functions
2. Preparation of officials of the administration of justice
In the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998 large-scale training in European law was carried out in order to prepare officials of the administration of justice to apply European law (including the acquis of JHA) in the conditions of membership. In this training programme, organised in co-operation with the member states (France, UK) and the services of the Commission, about a thousand judges have been trained.
3. Modernisation of the technical equipment of the administration of justice services
Especially for those in charge of combating organised crime (computerised information systems).
It is planned to exchange information, collected in the system, electronically with other Polish data bases and provide access to international electronic systems of information exchange.
It is clear that without Phare sources the transformation process wouldn't be so effective and satisfactory. The yearly Phare programmes and even the passive participation in the Title VI EU programmes considerably help to equip the Police, Border Guard, and Customs services with necessary technical resources and to implement training programmes related with the procedures applied by above formations according to the acquis.
Pesrspectives after Amsterdam: An Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
The European Council, held in Tampere on 15 and 16 October 1999, was - in my deep belief a milestone in the process of construction of the European Union. The idea of an area of freedom, security, and justice, inserted to the Treaty, gives a clear answer in which direction European integration is supposed to develop. Poland observes with particular attention the development of the idea of security in the EU - it is a petty that still observes from outside. But definitely Polish citizens and the Polish government share the member states' pre-occupation concerning this crucial problem for the future of our continent.
An idea without any practical measures becomes simple literature. The adequate steps taken only a few months after the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty have had very positive results. The Tampere summit invited the European Commission to propose the necessary legal solutions and measures, and indicate the deadlines for the creation of the area of freedom, security and justice. I personally see the "Scoreboard" as an indicative hand book for all European institutions and member-states' administrations, describing what, how and when should be done. The "Scoreboard" will be also an instrument in the hands of the citizens who receive a specific way to measure the accomplishment of the tasks.
The Scoreboard is also the instrument which will be useful for the candidate states. The effectiveness of the new legal instruments, which have to be accomplished by the EU, will be high only with simultaneous participation of the future EU members. And once again we come back to the question of the legitimacy of a closer and real involvement of the candidates in the co-operation in the JHA area based on a mutual partnership.
I have just tried to give you a general picture of the situation in Poland in its preparation process in the JHA area. It is impossible to do that in a very detailed way. But we are aware - all in Europe - that all problems connected with JHA may and should be solved only by a multi-country co-operation and by a common effort. There is an urgent necessity to intensify these efforts in combating new dangerous forms of transfrontier crime (including internet), in tackling problems of migration, protection of refugees or victims of crime. Because of the fact that many of those phenomena have intensified after the "opening" of Eastern and Central Europe and the increase of the free flow of people between East and West, public opinion in some countries tends to blame the Central and Eastern Europeans for their perceptible loss of safety. That is why we have to join our efforts to convince people, who are directly concerned, of our good will, indicating our practical engagements and the results achieved - to fight dangerous stereotypes which in the long run might hinder us on our way to an imminent membership of the European Union.