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 [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC (2001) 1752 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1408 - 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]
In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission saw no major problems with regard to research and technological development.
The November 1998 Report noted that certain progress had been made in the fields of research and technology. Progress had also been made with regard to the information society. Nevertheless, further efforts had to be made to align legislation with the Community acquis in the telecommunications sector.
The October 1999 Report noted that Poland had been associated with the 5th Framework Programme since September 1999. Whilst little progress was made during this period in the information society sector, Poland did make reasonable progress in the field of telecommunications and the privatisation process was launched.
In November 2000 the Commission noted the significant progress made by Poland in the fields of telecommunications and information technology and research.
The October 2002 Report noted that Poland was continuing to make progress in strengthening its science and research policy. As far as telecommunications were concerned, Poland had made some progress in aligning its legislation with the Community acquis and in liberalising its market.
The 2003 Report concludes that Poland is meeting the majority of the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the telecommunications area and is partially meeting the commitments and requirements in the postal services sector. Poland has met all the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the area of science and research.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.
Research and Technological Development activities at Community level, as provided for in Article 164 of the EC Treaty (former Article 130G) and the Framework Programme (Article 166, former Article 130I), are aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life, as well as supporting sustainable development and contributing to the development of other Community policies.
The European Association Agreement between the European Union and Poland provides for co-operation in these areas, notably through the participation of the Associated State in the Framework Programme. The White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995) includes no direct measures in this field.
The objective of Community telecommunications policy is to remove barriers to the efficient operation of the Internal Market in equipment, services and telecommunications networks, to open foreign markets to Community enterprises and to make modern services available to citizens and enterprises in the European Union. These objectives must be achieved by harmonising standards and conditions for the provision of services, liberalising the terminal equipment, services and networks markets and adopting the necessary regulatory measures.
The Europe Agreement stipulates that improvements in standards and practices in the field of telecommunications and postal services, and the standardisation, regulation and modernisation of the infrastructure to Community level must be achieved through cooperation. The White Paper places emphasis on the approximation of rules, networks and services and on the measures to be taken gradually to liberalise the sector.
Research and technological development
Poland has been associated with the Fifth Framework Programme(1) since September 1999. Several structures have been established for this purpose. Poland decided to open its corresponding research activities to enterprises, researchers and universities from the Member States. Poland later tried to increase its participation in this programme and it has expressed interest in being associated with the Sixth Framework Programme.
The November 2000 report strongly recommends that gross domestic expenditure on research and development be increased. There were substantial cuts in the 2002 state budget. In comparison to 2001, the total planned spending was reduced by nearly 20%. Financing therefore remains a major problem and Poland will need to continue its efforts to increase gross domestic expenditure on research and development.
The institutional arrangements in the sector are well established and have been strengthened over the years. Further improvements in the functioning of the State Committee for Scientific Research (KBN) and the national contact point (NCP) network are also envisaged.
In January 2002 an agreement on cooperation with the European Space Agency was signed, providing a framework for the participation of Polish institutions in the Agency's research projects.
In its 2003 report, the Commission takes the view that Poland has met all the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations and will be in a position to implement the acquis as from accession.
With regard to the information society, Poland continues to play an active role in the Joint High Level Committee meetings between the Commission and candidate countries. In September 2001, the Council of Ministers adopted the 'ePoland' action plan entitled 'Action Plan for Information Society Development in Poland for the years 2001-2006', which follows the approach of the eEurope+ action plan (2). It is to be updated annually. In terms of administrative capacity, a new 'computerisation' division has been set up within the government administration. This division includes, among other areas of responsibility, computer infrastructure, computer education and tele-information systems and networks.
In the telecommunications sector, Poland has made definite progress, achieving a reasonable level of alignment with the Community acquis. A new law on telecommunications came into force in July 2000, acting as a basis for the transposition of EC directives in this field and depriving the state-owned operator TPSA of the exclusive rights it enjoyed up until this point. Apart from some criticism, this law marks significant progress for Poland.
With regard to the liberalisation of the telecommunications market, local telecommunications services became fully liberalised in January 2002. Also from January 2002, long-distance telecommunications operators need no longer apply for licences but can operate after authorisation of the Office of Telecommunications and Post Regulation (URTiP). This body was established in March 2002 as the National Regulatory Authority in Poland for both telecommunications and postal services. It is independent from market operators and its responsibilities have been defined by law.
Penetration in mobile services has reached 26%. There are three GSM operators, and UMTS licences have already been issued so that operations can begin as soon as market conditions permit. Fixed network penetration has reached 32 % and is growing slowly.
Poland must still speed up the integration of the secondary legislation remaining so that the market can be properly regulated and opened up to competition. Further legislative efforts are also needed to reach full alignment in the area of telecommunications. In particular, the telecommunications law still needs to be amended, addressing the definition of universal service, the conditions for the provision of universal service, pre-selection and carrier selection, interconnection, number portability and local loop unbundling.
In 2003, some further adjustments were needed in the areas of universal service and the interconnection regime. Moreover, the adoption of implementing legislation remains to be completed, as in particular the universal services acquis still needs to be fully implemented. In order to develop further competition in the market, reasonable terms for interconnection need to be settled and local loop unbundling needs to be implemented. Poland also needs to ensure carrier selection and carrier pre-selection, as well as cost orientation on tariffs. The 2002 acquis on the establishment of a new regulatory framework for electronic communications remains to be transposed.
The postal sector, unlike the telecommunications sector, is in a much less promising situation, and the rate of reform in the postal market is also very slow. Draft legislation has been under discussion since February 2000.
In 2003, Poland still had to complete the alignment of its legislation, inter alia regarding the authorisations and licensing regime and universal service (quality of service provision and tariff principles). Complementary implementing legislation remains to be adopted, in particular on customer complaint procedures and the accounting system. Administrative capacity in this sector needs to be further strengthened by recruiting better qualified staff and by means of continued training.
(1) Decision No 4/1999 of the EU-Poland Association Council of 4 August 1999 adopting the terms and conditions for the participation of Poland in Community programmes in the field of research, technological development and demonstration (1998 to 2002)
Official Journal L 281 of 4.11.1999
(2) The eEurope+ action plan is aimed at helping to speed up the process of reforming the candidate countries' economies by using information society technologies and tools.
This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.