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Poland

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2002 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 701 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 509 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 709 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [SEC(2001) 1752 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1207 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered Poland's consumer protection standards to be inadequate. To comply with the Community acquis, Poland would therefore have to make a major effort to adopt a certain number of crucial new laws and would also have to amend many existing laws to align them with European Community standards.

The November 1998 Report confirmed this initial assessment and emphasised the delays in adopting and applying the Community acquis.

The October 1999 Report again emphasised Poland's lack of progress in this field and the need for it to make a considerable effort to meet this medium-term accession partnership priority.

In its October 2002 Report the Commission noted that Poland had provisionally closed negotiations on this chapter and had not requested any transitional arrangements.

The October 2003 Report indicates that Poland is largely in line with the acquis in terms of safety-related measures, non-safety-related measures and consumer organisations. In order to complete its preparations for membership, Poland must continue its work on adopting the acquis, strengthen its capacity to implement the legislation and above all ensure that the general public and business operators have a sufficient understanding of the legislation and of the rights and obligations which it generates.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

The Community acquis covers the protection of consumers' economic interests (notably in the fields of misleading advertising, indication of prices, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, distance selling, package travel, and timeshares), general product safety, cosmetics safety, the labelling of textile products and toy safety.

The European Association Agreement provides for aligning the legislation with Community law and for cooperation measures to bring Polish consumer protection law fully into line with the Community rules. The measures set out in the first phase of the White Paper on the Central and Eastern European Countries and the Internal Market (1995) focus on the improvement of product safety, notably in respect of cosmetics, textiles and toys, and on the protection of consumers' economic interests, mainly in the field of misleading advertising, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, and indication of prices. The second-phase measures concern package travel and timeshares. New, recently adopted Community legislation (distance selling, comparative advertising and indication of prices) must also be transposed.

EVALUATION

Non-safety-related measures

Non-safety-related measures have been transposed, with the exception of legislation on distance contracts and doorstep canvassing. Further checks are also needed to supplement those introduced to ensure that consumers' economic interests are protected.

Poland must also transpose the acquis in relation to the judicial authority responsible for consumer protection and increase the human and financial resources available for this.

Safety-related measures

Poland still needs to transpose certain aspects of the non-safety-related measures, for example the revised Directive on general product safety. It also needs to provide the administrative bodies in this area with more staff and an increased budget. Market surveillance in terms of general product safety is already partly in place, and Poland now needs to concentrate on improving cooperation between the bodies responsible for this surveillance.

Consumer protection

As for consumer protection, an act establishing regional consumer advocates entered into force in January 1999. The job of these consumer advocates is to provide consumers with free legal advice and information and to institute lawsuits on their behalf.

Further progress has been made since then: new mediators have been appointed and increasing use is being made of the conciliation courts, thereby relieving pressure on the ordinary courts. The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection also oversees the handling of complaints lodged by consumers and provides them with advice when asked. In addition, this body provides consumer organisations with financial assistance so they can develop free advice services for consumers, information and education campaigns, comparative testing and publication of brochures.

Apart from this visible progress, the Polish Government also needs to provide better financial support for consumer organisations so they can play their part in implementing consumer protection law and in informing and educating consumers and businesses.

It also needs to promote the role of these NGOs in establishing safety standards for consumer goods.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 26.01.2003
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