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The Warsaw Voice » Law » December 21, 2011
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Law in brief
December 21, 2011   
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Cross-Border Crackdown
A special contact point will be established in Poland to coordinate an exchange of information on crime and criminals with other EU countries, under new legislation approved by Polish parliament. The contact point will operate out of the national police headquarters. It will have direct electronic access to all major databases, such as the National Criminal Register and the Central Register of Drivers and Vehicles.

Poland Wins Dispute Over Sugar Levies
Poland has won a European Court of Justice case against the European Commission over sugar levies. In 2005, the Commission set sugar production levies at a considerably higher level for new member states than for old EU countries. As a result, sugar producers in Poland have had to pay more than their counterparts in Western Europe. According to the Polish Association of Sugar Producers, Polish producers may now receive about 4 million euros in compensation, though the verdict is still subject to appeal.

Push for Exportable Job Skills
Members of the European Parliament are urging the European Commission to speed up work on amending the Professional Qualifications Directive of 2005 to make it easier for EU citizens—especially young and educated workers—to take up employment in other EU countries. According to MEPs, the current system for recognizing professional qualifications obtained in another member state is too complicated and time-consuming.

MEPs are calling for the introduction of so-called skills passports combined with an electronic system for the exchange of internal market information, in an effort to enable an efficient exchange of information between authorities in individual member states.

The new rules are expected to specify a deadline by which someone’s qualifications would have to be recognized in another member country. The recognition procedure would include a language proficiency test covering both job-specific technical terms and general communication skills. This especially applies to doctors and nurses. According to Eurodeputies, the ability to communicate with patients and colleagues is of paramount importance and makes it possible to avoid dangerous situations, including those potentially life-threatening for patients.

Self-Extinguishing Cigarettes
All cigarettes sold throughout the EU must now conform to a new fire safety standard aiming to reduce the number of deaths and injuries resulting from fires started by cigarettes.

Under the new rules, tobacco companies must produce so-called self-extinguishing cigarettes. All cigarettes sold in EU member countries must be reduced ignition propensity (RIP) cigarettes. Such cigarettes are already available in countries including the United States and Canada, as well as, since April 2010, in Finland.

Over 30,000 fires a year across the EU are related to cigarette smoking, causing over 1,000 fatalities annually. The new security requirements are expected to reduce the number of smoking-related fires and significantly reduce the number of deaths. In Finland, the number of smoking-related fires has dropped by more than 40 percent since the new type of cigarettes appeared.

RIP cigarettes have two narrow bands of slightly thicker paper, which reduces the likelihood of unattended cigarettes continuing to burn.

Tougher Rules for Patients’ Rights Commissioner
Under new rules, the commissioner for patients’ rights is not allowed to belong to a political party or engage in activities which cannot be reconciled with their core responsibilities or which bring their office into disrepute. The only exception to the ban on outside activities is the job of university professor.
The deputy commissioner for patients’ rights is subject to the same requirements.

Employers Hit Out at Red Tape
Polish companies incur excessive administrative costs—totaling 15 billion euros a year—due to “superfluous regulations” that restrict the competitiveness of businesses and contribute to unemployment, according to the Lewiatan Polish Confederation of Private Employers.

“From the perspective of businesspeople, the top priority is to reduce the number of regulations and especially to prevent new ones emerging,” said Confederation chief Henryka Bochniarz.
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