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The Warsaw Voice » Law » June 30, 2011
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Law in brief
June 30, 2011   
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Visas for Foreigners—With a Photo
An application for a Polish visa filed by a foreigner must include a color photo of the applicant, under new rules introduced by the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration at the end of May.
The photo must be no older than six months and clearly show the person’s eyes and face. The person in the photo must look straight ahead and have a natural facial expression, with the mouth closed. If someone wears a headdress in accordance with the principles of their religion, they can hand the consul a photo that depicts them in this headgear, but the headgear cannot cover the person’s face.

All Policies 100% Guaranteed
By the end of the year, a new European Union directive will be drafted to introduce uniform guarantees across the EU in the event of the insolvency of insurers. This involves the introduction of 100-percent protection for individuals in the case of all types of insurance policies. “In Poland, this would mean a significant extension in the existing level of protection,” said Elżbieta Wanat-Połeć, president of the Insurance Guarantee Fund. Today guarantees in the event of an insurer’s insolvency cover only selected types of insurance policies.

More Banks
Foreign credit institutions operating in Poland will be able to easily transform themselves into full-fledged banks under a draft amendment to banking law that has been approved by the government. This involves special rules for credit institutions from EU countries. In Poland, they operate in the form of branches of foreign credit institutions. There is no simple procedure for converting them into domestic banks. This will become possible if parliament approves the proposals adopted by the government. A branch of a foreign credit institution will then be able to set up a joint-stock company and contribute to it all of its assets intended for banking operations—in the form of a non-cash contribution towards the company’s initial capital. From that time the new company will become a bank. It will not be required to obtain a special permit to conduct banking operations.

Such new banks will be subject to supervision by the Polish Financial Supervision Commission, unlike branches of foreign institutions, which are subject to supervision by authorities in the countries of their origin. Deposits in such banks will be protected by the Polish Bank Guarantee Fund.

Severe Penalties for Fraud
The European Commission wants to tighten regulations to better protect taxpayers’ money against fraud.

Fraud and corruption related to EU funds can take various forms at the national level. White-collar criminals fraudulently obtain money for projects in agriculture, research, education or infrastructure. They may also seek to influence public officials by bribing them. The European Commission wants to curb these practices. It plans to strengthen procedures to help prosecutors and judges throughout the EU fight white-collar crime by intensifying the exchange of information between the police, customs services, tax authorities and the judiciary. In a political document adopted May 26, the European Commission mandates a number of policy measures to enable prosecutors and judges across the EU to more effectively combat fraudulent practices harming the financial interests of the EU. The European Commission plans to increase the powers of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and Eurojust, the EU body for judicial cooperation.

Legal Action Against Commission?
Polish Economy Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak is preparing to file a complaint to the European Court of Justice against the rules for the allocation of free permits for carbon dioxide emissions for industry, which have been imposed by officials in Brussels. Pawlak argues that Poland should challenge a decision by the European Commission concerning CO2 emission allowances for industrial plants, because the decision failed to take into account the specific features of Polish industry.

The rules for allocating the allowances were set in Brussels in December last year. Critics said they were detrimental to Polish companies, which mainly use energy generated from coal in their production processes. The solutions proposed by the European Commission “do not respect the principle of subsidiarity and introduce benchmarking solutions based solely on gas, as a result of which generation of energy from coal is naturally in a much worse position,” said Pawlak.

He argues that an indicator for calculating permits “based on the best technologies in a given sector” would be a far better and fairer solution.

The obligation to purchase emission rights is part of the EU’s climate policy, which enters into force in 2013.
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