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Poland is a country in central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east and, to the north, Lithuania and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Poland has a long coast on the Baltic Sea and is largely dominated by low-lying rolling plains in the north. To the south, the Carpathian Mountains form a watershed and natural border with Slovakia.
The most important sectors of Poland’s economy in 2012 were wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (26.4 %), industry (24.6 %) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (13.4 %).
Poland’s main export partners are Germany, UK and the Czech Republic while its main import partners are Germany, Russia and the Netherlands.
Geographical size: 312 679 km2
Population: 38 538 447 (2012)
Population as % of total EU population: 7.6 % (2012)
GDP: € 381.48 billion (2012)
Official EU language(s): Polish
Political system: parliamentary republic
EU member country since: 1 May 2004
Seats in the European Parliament: 51
Currency: Polish Złoty PLN
Passport-free travel? Yes, Schengen Area member since 21 December 2007
Presidency of the Council: Poland has held the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU once in 2011.
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Polish government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Polish presidencies:
More on the current presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
Poland has 21 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
Poland has 21 representatives on the Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Poland also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As Poland's "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Member countries' financial contributions to the EU budget are shared fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather to focus on the needs of all Europeans as a whole.
Breakdown of Poland’s finances with the EU in 2012:
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
The money paid into the EU budget by Poland helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how Poland benefits from EU funding.