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The Warsaw Voice » Law » April 16, 2008
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April 16, 2008   
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Making Life Easier for Foreign Firms
The Economy Ministry has drafted an amendment to the freedom of business act that introduces considerable changes to the registration procedure for companies from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The amendment will enable them to provide services in Poland on a temporary basis without the need of being listed in the National Court Register or business registers kept by local governments. The draft is designed to bring Polish law in line with EU regulations contained in a directive on the free movement of services. Experts say the proposed changes will make life easier for foreign entrepreneurs in Poland.

Ombudsman Highlights Lack of Legal Follow-Up
Poland's commissioner for civil rights, Janusz Kochanowski, has written a letter to Prime Minister Donald Tusk to tell him that many of the judgments passed by the Constitutional Tribunal have never been enforced. This poses a serious threat to civil rights and liberties, Kochanowski says. According to him, in 68 cases no legislative initiative has followed the tribunal's rulings. Kochanowski wants Tusk to appoint a task force and a commissioner for the enforcement of Constitutional Tribunal rulings.

Report Urges Tax System Reform
Paying Taxes 2008, a report published by the World Bank and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), ranks Poland in 125th place among 178 countries in terms of tax system efficiency.

The list takes into account the number of tax payments during a year, the time which taxpayers spend on tax formalities, and the total amount of taxes to be paid.

The Polish tax system is unfriendly to businesses, the report says. Enterprises in Poland have to make 41 tax payments annually, which makes Poland rank next to the last among 27 EU member states. The data concerns personal and corporate income taxes and value-added tax. A medium-sized Polish company spends 418 hours every year settling tax formalities, which, according to the report, shows that Poland needs a simpler and better organized tax system. Similar conclusions have been made with regard to other countries. Other necessary changes include a reduction in the number of taxes, lower tax rates, and the possibility of filing online, the report says.

The report names the Maldives, Singapore and Ireland as countries where paying taxes is the easiest, while Panama and Jamaica are some of the most difficult countries.

Business Law Goes Online
Those interested in different countries' business laws or wanting to start a business either in their own country or abroad should visit the www.doingbusiness.org website. This online guidebook evaluates regulations that directly impact economic growth in 178 countries.

The Rankings page contains the standings of all 178 countries analyzed on the website, rated in terms of the ease of doing business. Poland ranks 74th in the league table. The website looks at factors such as starting a business, paying taxes and completing procedures to obtain licenses and permissions.

The website has an impressive Law Library with links sorted by country and law branch.

Businesspeople should click on the Reports page, which offers free downloads of reports dealing with doing business, such as comprehensive papers on every country discussed on the website and cross-sectional papers like a comparative analysis of tax systems around the world. The paper on Poland is 82 pages long.

Ticket in France, Fine in Poland
European Union member states will exchange data to facilitate the identification of car drivers who speed, drive under the influence, have no seat belts on and go through a red light. These traffic offenses are the cause of 75 percent of fatal car accidents in the EU. EU Commissioner for Transport Jacques Barrot has drafted a new directive to harmonize the rules of penalizing and prosecuting traffic offenders across the EU. The new system is supposed to put an end to the impunity of drivers from one EU country who violate traffic regulations in another country.

At the moment, EU citizens who exceed a speed limit in another EU country can usually get away with it, because speed cameras are unable to identify the car and its driver. Police officers have no means to confirm the personal data of a foreigner caught driving under the influence, and the same is true of the car's data. This jeopardizes safety on roads, as in the end only local traffic offenders get penalized. For example, foreign drivers constitute 5.1 percent of all road users in France, but they account for 15 percent of speeding cases. The figures in Luxembourg stand at 14 and 30 percent respectively.

The draft directive proposes for the EU to devise a computer system over the next three years to link national databases on drivers and vehicles. Countries with well-developed traffic enforcement camera systems-among them France, Belgium, Britain and Luxembourg-will be able to enforce the payment of traffic tickets more efficiently once it is possible to instantly identify a foreign driver who breaks traffic regulations. Today, such tickets do not even get written as nobody knows where to mail them.

After the changes are made, the Belgian system, for example, will recognize a car with Polish license plates and obtain the car owner's data from Poland. Under the European Commission's plans, this will enable Belgium to send a ticket written in Polish to an address in Poland.

Civilian Lawyers for Servicemen Urged
Deputies have passed an amendment under which police officers, border guards and customs officers facing disciplinary proceedings will be able to seek assistance from civilian lawyers and legal advisers. So far, law enforcers were only allowed to choose defenders from among members of their own services. Commissioner for Civil Rights Janusz Kochanowski has appealed against those regulations, saying that denying these servicemen the right to seek the assistance of civilian lawyers and legal advisers restricts their constitutional right to defense. The Constitutional Tribunal has backed Kochanowski and declared the restriction unconstitutional.
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