Poland has a homogeneous population composed of 96.9% ethnically Polish, Silesian 1.1%, German 0.2%, Ukrainian 0.1%, and other 1.7% (2011 est.: CIA Factbook 2021). Poland has adopted EU-required anti-discrimination laws and domestic citizenship reforms. However, under the country’s relatively unfavourable regulations, non-EU citizens encounter numerous barriers to integration, including requirements introduced in 2018 that link obtaining residency to the knowledge of Polish language at B1 level as well as an “economic requirement” to prove a certain amount of income (MIPEX 2020). As in most Central and Eastern European countries, immigrants in Poland have certain essential rights and security (such as the ability to settle long-term), but they do not have equal chances and are denied participation in public life.
Restrictive policies towards immigrants in Poland hinders their integration within the society, leading to low social trust between immigrants and citizens. In addition, Poland’s educational systems are not well prepared to deal with multicultural education and the unique needs of immigrant children and youth. Despite this, a new intercultural training program for teachers has been launched and immigrant students have been offered free language classes (MIPEX 2020). Moreover, immigrants have access to employment opportunities and equal protection against discrimination although anti-discrimination laws are relatively recent.
Poland has achieved an overall ICDI score of 0.595, with moderate scores attained across its legislative, structural and opportunities dimensions. Scores above 0.8 in the components of fractionalisation and inequality indicate a positive situation around meaningful cultural participation and low levels of inequality. Scores above 0.7 in the components of cohesion and stability, intercultural attitudes and freedom and rights signal lower levels of racism, and a favourable situation related to the freedom of expression, media, and press.
Current Situation and Outlook
Poland’s moderate scores across the legislative, structural and opportunities dimensions are particularly related to the levels of social contact, and access to communication. Poland’s ICDI score could improve with more attention to increasing opportunities for social contact through encouraging cultural participation amongst its main and diasporic communities. Facilitating access to communication for communities away from urban Polish communities can also contribute to strengthening the structural dimension. Poland can also consider enhancing its emphasis on anti-discrimination laws and multi-cultural policies at a national level to enhance its legislative dimension. However, if the situation around the legislative and structural dimensions persists, there is a possibility for homogenous cultures to dominate the country, possibly deterring the growth of intercultural relations.