This paper examines Poland's application for membership into the European Union. It focuses on the legal criteria necessary for accession. Accession into the Union requires acceptance of the acquis communautaire. Although economic criteria are mentioned in this paper as part of the discussion concerning the meeting of the Copenhagen requirements, there is no in depth analysis. Poland provides a good example of a former eastern block country seeking accession into the Union. Since accession requirements are the same for all applicants, this paper also allows for an examination of legal requirements for any country seeking membership into the European Union.
Poland like many other Eastern European countries has begun the process of accession into the European Union (EU). The legal criteria necessary for accession encompass one of the largest requirements. The requirements for Poland are essentially the same for any nation seeking membership to the EU. Therefore, Poland allows for a good case study of accession since it was one of the first eastern block countries to achieve democracy.
In addition to the economic benefits, there are also political and security benefits that will be afforded Poland upon its accession to the EU. It will provide for greater security for Europe as a whole and provide more economic and political stability for the region. These benefits will run not only to Poland but also to the rest of Europe. Membership will assist the economic development and will culturally link Poland to Western Europe. It will also provide an atmosphere in which its new democracy has the best chance of survival and growth.
Poland is the seventh largest trading partner of the European Union. Since 1989 EU exports to Poland have increased three hundred percent. Conversely, EU imports from Poland increased by more than two hundred percent. Machinery and electrical goods were the most important exports, providing twenty-seven percent of the total. Base metals accounted for seventeen percent (European Commission, 1997). Therefore, there is strong incentive for a relationship between the European Union and Poland.
ESTABLISHING A RELATIONSHIP
Poland established a relationship with the European Union in September of 1988. It entered into a trade and cooperation agreement a year later in September of 1989. This was a non-preferential agreement that recognized the most favored nation concept of trade. Its goal was to abolish quantitative restrictions against imports from Poland into the Community by 1994. Although this was an important first step, it is generally agreed that the signing of the European Treaty on December 16, 1991 was a more significant step towards accession.
It became effective on February 1, 1994 and it is the legal basis behind establishing relations with the EU. This treaty establishes a free trade zone, but more importantly firmly sets forth its main goal as accession into the EU. The treaty covers political dialogue; trade in industrial and agricultural products; establishment and movement of workers; supply of services; public procurement; liberalization of payments and movement of capital; competition rules; protection of intellectual, industrial and commercial property; and approximation of legislation, economic, cultural and financial cooperation (The European Union, 2000). In order to meet its obligations under the treaty the Polish Government set up a special ministerial committee on European integration in October of 1996. One of the principal functions of the committee is to examine all legislative proposals to ensure compliance with the treaty. Ultimately for accession to occur there must be approximation of Polish laws with Community regulations and directives.
EUROPEAN UNION CRITERIA FOR ACCESSION
In June of 1993 at a meeting in Copenhagen, the European Council set forth five political, economic and social criteria that countries must meet in order to be admitted into the Union (Poland Negotiates EU Accession, 2000). …