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The Warsaw Voice » Law » February 23, 2012
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Law in brief
February 23, 2012   
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Mutual Recognition of Judicial Decisions
The European Union Jan. 1 introduced new rules to regulate the mutual recognition of judicial decisions. District courts in member countries are now obligated to enforce judgments passed by courts in other EU countries. In Poland, this is done under Polish law, and the court must quickly deal with the matter.

Fight Against Fraud
The European Commission has proposed setting aside around 118 million euros to fight fraud from 2014 to 2020. The money would be earmarked for joint customs operations, the fight against money counterfeiting and the purchase of equipment for the detection of cases of counterfeiting.

The Commission has proposed two anti-fraud programs—Hercules III, a program dedicated to fighting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the EU; and Pericles 2020, an exchange, assistance and training program aiming to strengthen measures aiming to prevent the counterfeiting of euro banknotes and coins in Europe and worldwide.

Penalties for Sexual Abuse of Children
Offenders found guilty of certain sexual offenses against children throughout the European Union will be liable to a prison term of one to 10 years—under a new draft directive approved during Poland’s turn at the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, which ended Dec. 31. The directive was drafted in a bid to supplement the standards currently in force in such cases, officials say. These tough new penalties are expected to be used across the EU in two years at the latest.

The directive sets the minimum terms of imprisonment for 20 different crimes related to the sexual abuse of children, such as rape, profiting from prostitution involving minors, and possession of child pornography. The minimum prison terms range from one to 10 years—for example, for forcing a child into sexual activity or prostitution below the age of consent (in each country this age may be defined differently; in Poland it is 15 years).

The directive introduces an absolute ban on advertising so-called sex tourism.

All EU countries are also required to launch programs for the treatment of pedophiles, including after they serve their prison terms.

The directive also introduces an obligation to remove any pedophile websites from national servers and the possibility of blocking access to such sites hosted on foreign servers (the decision will be made on an individual basis by each country).

European Law Institute to Advise Commission
The European Law Institute (ELI), which was set up at the end of last year to provide advice to the European Commission, discussed at its first meeting the Commission’s proposal to create common voluntary regulations to govern online sales.

The ELI, which brings together legal practitioners and theoreticians from EU countries and whose establishment was supported by European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding, is based in Vienna. It aims to work for the integration of European legal systems and in the future build a European area of law and justice. The ELI is expected to provide advisory services to political decision-makers and EU bodies, and propose regulatory reforms.
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