National initiatives

In 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the programme “Closer to work, closer to Poland” (Blizej pracy, blizej Polski) which was followed by a programme targeting the Polish diaspora. The first mention of a government “return programme” was in October 2007, when the Minister of Labour and Social Policy announced its outlines, but Polish parliamentary elections and a subsequent change of government prevented any action (Szczepanski, 2010). In April 2008, the Interdepartmental Working Group on Return Migration formulated a programme targeting return migrants. Importantly, this programme was based on two main premises: first, that returns are an inevitable consequence of mass emigration, and second, that the responsibility of the government should not be to influence individual migrants’ decisions to return, but to enable a “smooth” return to Poland and reintegration into its labour market. The programme consisted of six packages but only five have been implemented so far5 (Fialkowska and Szczepanski, 2012; see also Table 5.6):

  • Package 1 - services for returning migrants: a dedicated website, a “Return migrant handbook Social Diagnosis - a large-scale, countrywide survey devoted to the analysis of social norms and various forms of participation. Returner” (see also point 5), online employment office services, support for migrants with respect to vocational training, advice on investment and business opportunities in Poland.
  • Package 2 - removal of barriers for persons planning to return to Poland: introduction of the Tax Abolition Act in order to avoid double taxation (2008), introduction of tax credits and investment allowances, grants for individual technology transfer, facilitated recognition of degrees and qualifications acquired abroad, easier acquisition or restoration of Polish citizenship.
  • Package 3 - help for individual return migrants and their families, abroad as well as in Poland, particularly in the field of education (e.g. help for school children).
  • Package 4 - interventions in the public administration, including the training of civil servants expected to come into contact with return migrants.
  • Package 5 - information and promotion. In late 2008, a governmental campaign named “Have you got a PLan to return?” (where “PL” is the international abbreviation for Poland) was launched, to provide Poles who are considering or have already decided to return to Poland with all the necessary information for a smooth return to Poland and successful reintegration. Activities included the publication of a manual for return migrants (“A Returner”) and the launching of the programme’s official website (

Due to the very structure of the initiative and its aims, it is extremely difficult to evaluate. Nevertheless, the programme as well its underlying approach influenced the debate on return migration in Poland affecting other initiatives dedicated to return migrants.

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