Between History and Europe Europeanization of Post-1989 National Minority Policy in Poland
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University of Warsaw
Publication date: 2010-01-05
Polish Sociological Review 2009;168(4):555–574
This article discusses the development of state policy concerning national minorities in Poland after 1989 from the perspective of its internationalization and the Europeanization of its legal foundations, i.e., guaranteed legal status for minorities and the nature and scope of minority rights. The thrust of the article is that Europeanization of Poland’s national minority policy progressed in several stages and that the process ofEUaccession was not the only impulse for this progression. Initially, Europeanization focused on regulation of the status of minorities by means of bilateral treaties with Poland’s neighbours which included special “minority clauses.” The next stage was connected with the EU accession process. In this stage, protection of minorities was one of the most important political criteria against which candidate progress was evaluated (the so-called Copenhagen criteria) and it ended with the acceptance of international documents (mainly European Council documents) concerning the protection of minorities. The last stage concluded with the passing and implementation of a special minority act in 2005. Paradoxically, external factors (the influence of international institutions) had the greatest impact on the Europeanization process in the early 1990s. Later developments were apparently more influenced by internal factors, especially the need to regulate the legal status of such minorities as the Silesians and the Kashubians.