Domestic Concerns

On domestic issues, the Polish government faces a number of pressing challenges: delivering on promised social welfare programs, addressing the ongoing, divisive issue of “decommunization”, bolstering its border security, tackling issues that impact Poland’s economy, and finding alternative sources of energy to reduce its dependency on Russian gas.

The government favors social policies that include the economic and social strengthening of the family. It proposes new income tax deductions for families with children and payments for new mothers to encourage childbearing. But such policies require spending increases that could hinder Poland’s ability to meet the strict budget-deficit limit of three percent of GDP required to enter the euro zone.  And the government’s public criticisms of abortion and homosexuality directly contradict EU policy. The government has also indicated that it plans to abolish the post of Minister for Women, which would make Poland the only EU country without such a cabinet post.

The issue of decommunization (“lustracja”) has not been fully addressed in Poland and was a popular campaign issue for PiS. The old policy was that individuals slotted for senior government jobs had to declare if they had ever belonged to the communist party.  Although party membership was not in itself a disqualification, the declarations were verified. Individuals found to have lied about their membership were removed from office. The new government wants to vet all candidates for government service, including the police and the security services. It argues that numerous officials have escaped justice and secured wealth and power by exploiting their old communist connections. This new vetting policy will be expensive and time consuming to implement. It seems likely to exacerbate divisions within Polish society and to increase the risk that personal information – whether factual or not – will be released for political purposes.

Strengthening the protection of Poland’s borders is also of primary importance. In our meetings, Polish officials voiced concern about the flow of illegal goods and organized crime elements from the East. In addition, there was some anxiety expressed about the potential for a terrorist act on Polish soil, given Poland’s participation in the Iraq conflict.  All these issues are also of concern to Poland’s EU neighbors.

Although Poland’s commercial and residential real estate markets have been booming in recent years, the country’s complex history creates a degree of land title uncertainty.  For example, many descendants of Poles who were displaced during World War II argue that they have a valid claim on ancestral property now occupied by others. Enforcing these claims is expensive and can drag on for years. Government authorities will have to address the uncertainty around certain land ownership rights by encouraging the expansion of the existing title insurance program,[1] which alleviates some of the risks arising from disputed property rights.

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[1] Overview of the current insurance title program

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