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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Political and economic situation


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.4Political and economic situation

Last update: 14 December 2023

The transformation of the Polish economy, which began in the 1990s, involved the transition from the centrally steered economy to a free market one. It included in particular: change in the structure of ownership of economic entities (privatisation); the abolishment of the State control over the foreign trade; the liberalisation of financial flows between Poland and other countries; the introduction of legislation stimulating the development of entrepreneurship and competition on the domestic market; the liberalisation of prices; and the introduction of internal exchange of the Polish zloty and of a uniform exchange rate of currencies. Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004 began a period of boom in the Polish economy. The growth in exports stimulated a growth in production and employment and, consequently, in domestic consumption. At the beginning, with some production capacity reserve available in the Polish economy, the growth of production was achieved with no investment outlays. Further growth of demand resulted in increased investment, which contributed to a relatively high economic growth.

The year 2008 saw a gradual economic slowdown in Poland. Despite that, the economy still recorded a high rate of growth and was affected only to a limited extent by the global financial crisis. Between 2010 and 2011, Poland’s economy was gradually rebuilding its capacity, and the GDP grew by 4.8% in 2011. However, from 2012 onwards, the rate of economic growth slowed down, and the GDP increased in real terms by only 1.3% in 2012 and 1.1% in 2013. Between 2014 and 2018, Poland remained on the path of economic growth, with the GDP growth rate increasing markedly. In 2019, the real GDP growth rate (according to Eurostat) reached 4.7%, which was significantly higher than the EU average (1.8%).

The next year was marked by economic slowdown and, subsequently, a recession in the EU, caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the partial lockdown that halted economic activity.  In 2020, the GDP in the EU decreased by 5.9%. The decline in Poland was less drastic but still significant: 2.2%. However, Poland was back on the growth path in the next year. In 2022, the GDP grew by 5.1% (compared to the average growth rate of 3.4% for the EU).

Annual GDP growth rate









EU-27 average 1.9 2.2 2.3 1.8 -5.9 5.4 3.4
Poland 3.5 3.7 4.2 4.7 -2.2 5.9 5.1

Source: Eurostat

The GDP in Poland has been steadily growing in relation to the EU average as adjusted by the purchasing power parity (PPP). The PPP-adjusted GDP per capita in Poland represented 49% of the EU average in 2004 and 79.5% in 2022.

Public expenditure on education

Public expenditure on education in Poland, in relation to both the GDP and the total public expenditure, was higher than the EU average.

Expenditure on Education 2010 2015 2016 2017 2019 2020
As a percentage share of the GDP
EU (27) average 5.3 4.8 4.7 4.6 4.6 4.7
Poland 5.6 5.3 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0
As a percentage share of the public expenditure
EU (27) average 10.6 10.3 10.3 10.2 9.9 10.0
Poland 12.1 12.7 12.1 11.9 12.0 12.0

SourceEducation and Training Monitor, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.