International legal frameworks binding on Poland

Article 87(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland enumerates – among the sources of universally binding law – equally ratified international conventions/agreements. Thus, these conventions/agreements form a part of the domestic legal order and have precedence over national laws in the event of potential collision with these laws, if they have been ratified upon with the prior consent granted by an Act of Parliament (Article 91(1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Republic
of Poland).

Since 1 May 2004, that is from the moment of Poland’s accession to the European Union, EU legal acts, and first of all – treaties, regulations and directives, have become national legal standards. Pursuant to Article 91(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland they have precedence over the national legislation if the latter governs a given issue in a different way than the relevant EU legislation.
Provisions of treaties and regulations become ipso jure a part of the Member States legal order.
Regulations are directly applicable with no necessity of their ratification, while directives should be introduced to the national legal order as a rule within a period from one to three years.

The basic legal acts of the European Union in the social security sphere are the European Community treaties and the following acts issued on their basis:

  • Regulation (EC) no. 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the coordination of social security systems, enabling citizens of EU Member States moving within the Community to take advantage of social security benefits,

  • Regulation (EC) no. 987/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) no. 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems,

  • Regulation of the European Parliament and (EU) Council no. 465/2012 of the 22nd of May 2012 changing the resolution no. 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems and the resolution no. 987/2009 on the carrying out of resolution no. 883/2004,

  • Regulation (EU) no. 1231/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 extending Regulation (EC) no. 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) no. 987/2009 to nationals of third countries who are not already covered by these Regulations solely on the ground of their nationality,

  • Council Directive (EEC) no. 7/79 of 19 December 1978 on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security,

  • Directive (EU) 24/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare.

Besides, the following regulations still remain in force:

  • Regulation (EEC) no. 1408/71 of the Council of 14 June 1971 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons and their families moving within the Community,

  • Regulation (EEC) no. 574/72 of the Council of 21 March 1972 fixing the procedure for implementing Regulation (EEC) no. 1408/71 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons and their families moving within the Community,

    • for the purposes of implementation of Council Regulation (EC) no. 859/2003 of 14 May 2003 extending the provisions of Regulation (EEC) no. 1408/71 and Regulation (EEC) no. 574/72 to nationals of third countries who are not already covered by those provisions solely on the ground of their nationality – provisions of this Regulation apply solely to nationals of third countries who are legally resident in the territory of the United Kingdom or to nationals of third countries who have completed insurance periods in the United Kingdom and are resident in the territory of another Member State.

The European Union Regulations on the coordination of the social security systems have superseded – from the moment of Poland’s accession to the European Union – bilateral international conventions/agreements on social security, which had earlier bound Poland with the Member States.


However there still remain in force several specific regulations, beneficial for Polish citizens, between Poland and Austria and between Poland and Germany in the form of bilateral agreements on social security:

  • Article 33 par. 3 of the Convention of 7 September 1998 between the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Austria on social security (crediting of insurance periods completed before 27 November 1961); application of this provision is limited to persons covered by this Convention,

  • Agreement of 9 October 1975 between the Polish People’s Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany on old-age pensions and on accident insurance within the scope covered by Article 27 par. 2-4 of the Agreement of 8 December 1990 between the Republic of Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany on social security (maintenance – based on the Agreement of 1975 – of the legal status for persons who were residents of Germany or Poland before 1 January 1991 and who still reside there,

  • Article 27 par. 5 and Article 28 par. 2 of the Agreement of 8 December 1990 between the Republic of Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany on social security (maintenance of rights to pensions paid pursuant to the Agreement of 1957 concluded with the former German Democratic Republic; crediting of insurance periods completed by Polish employees pursuant to the Agreement of 1988 concluded with the former German Democratic Republic).

The following bilateral agreements on social security are in force with states outside of the European Union:

  • Agreement of 16 January 1958 between the Government of the Polish People’s Republic and the Government of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia on social insurance – with respect to: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro;

  • The agreement on social security between the Polish Republic and the Republic of Macedonia signed on the 6th of April 2008 as well as the administrative agreement in relation to the use of the said signed on 27th of June 2007 (in force since 1st July 2007),

  • Agreement on social security between the Republic of Poland and the United States of America signed in Warsaw on 2 April 2008 and the administrative arrangement on its application, signed on the same day, (in force since 1 March 2009),

  • Agreement on social security between the Republic of Poland and Canada signed in Warsaw on 2 April 2008 and the administrative arrangement on its application, signed on the same day (in force since 1 October 2009),

  • Agreement on social security between the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), signed in Warsaw on 25 February 2009 and administrative arrangement on its application, signed on the same day (in force since 1 March 2010),

  • Agreement on social security between the Republic of Poland and Australia signed in Warsaw on 7 October 2009 and the administrative arrangement on its application, signed on the same day, entered into force on 1 October 2010;

  • Agreement on social security between the Republic of Poland and Ukraine signed in Warsaw on 18 May 2012 and the administrative arrangement on its application, signed on the same day, entered into force on 1 January 2014;

  • Agreement on social security between the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Moldova signed on 9 September 2013 and the administrative arrangement on its application, signed on the same day (in force since 1 January 2014),

  • Agreement on social security between the Republic of Poland and Quebec signed on 3 June 2015 and the administrative arrangement on its application, signed on the same day. The agreement will come into force following the ratification process.

Besides, Poland is bound by the international conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation and the provisions of the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe.

On 6 September 2012 Poland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention entered into force on 25 October 2012.