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The Warsaw Voice » Law » March 29, 2012
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Law in brief
March 29, 2012   
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Public Holidays: Poles Above Average
Apart from their annual paid leave, Polish workers will have 13 days off this year due to public holidays. The European average is 12.6 days, according to the Official Journal of the European Union. Poland ranks 16th in Europe in terms of the number of such holidays, along with Austria, Sweden and Portugal. Belgium tops the list with 24 public holidays, ahead of Hungary, with 17, and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania and Latvia, each with 15.

Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain have the smallest number of public holidays, each only nine days, while Scotland and Luxembourg each have 10.

European Foundation Statute Proposed
The European Commission in February presented a proposal for a European Foundation Statute to facilitate the cross-border activities of public-benefit foundations and make it easier for them to support public-benefit causes across the EU. European foundations will have the same rights in all EU member states and will operate alongside domestic foundations. Their status will allow them to carry out activities and channel funding within the EU in an easier and less costly way. At present, this is often costly and cumbersome because of differences between and obstacles in member states’ regulations. To gain European status, a foundation needs to be a public-benefit organization, conduct cross-border activities and have at least 25,000 euros in founding assets. After registration, such a European foundations will have “legal personality and legal capacity” in all member states.

Under the statute worked out by the European Commission, every European foundation will have a European label, which will make it easier for it to promote its activity and attract donations. Member states would have to recognize European foundations as equivalent to public-benefit foundations set up under their own national legislation. This means that European foundations will be subject to the same tax regime as domestic foundations and that their donors will be entitled to the same tax benefits.

Advice for Crime Victims
More than 2,300 people were provided with legal advice across Poland during the Assistance Week for Crime Victims from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25. The largest number of people sought legal advice in the cities of Gdańsk, Szczecin, Elbl±g, Cracow, Kielce and Warsaw. Most were interested in advice on matters concerning domestic violence, sexual abuse and stalking.

Marzena Kruk, director of the Human Rights Department at the Justice Ministry, said the most important thing is to encourage people to talk about what has been done to them. “Since people do not trust state institutions, advice is provided by assistance centers supported by nongovernmental organizations, which work locally for victims of crime,” she said.

There are 16 such centers in Poland. Advice to victims was provided by prosecutors, policemen, psychologists, lawyers and legal trainees. Assistance Week for Crime Victims has been held in Poland for several years.

Less Smuggled Booze and Smokes
The amount of alcohol and cigarettes smuggled into Poland and sold illegally has dropped in recent years, according to a report by the Finance Ministry, which has recently summed up the results of crackdowns by the Customs Service from 2009 to 2011. As part of its efforts to fight smuggling and illegal trade in tobacco products, the Customs Service conducted strict inspections in marketplaces and tightened checks at the country’s eastern border by employing more customs officers.

Poland ranks among the EU countries with the largest amounts of illegal tobacco products uncovered and seized. In 2010, Polish customs officers seized over 563 million smuggled cigarettes versus 606 million a year earlier. One of the reasons behind the drop is that illegal products are now entering Western Europe mainly via Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. In 2012-2015, the Polish Customs Service wants to maintain the high level of border controls on the eastern border, especially with Belarus, and inspections in marketplaces, and to work closer with police officers, Border Guards and the Internal Security Agency (ABW) in uncovering illegal cigarette production.

The Customs Service has also been conducting strict checks on alcoholic beverages, checking excise labels in warehouses and restaurants. In 2010, customs officers uncovered 140 bottles with counterfeit excise labels versus 500 in 2009 and more than 3,000 in 2008. But the number of illegal bottling plants uncovered grew each year: 22 in 2008, 32 in 2009, and 30 in 2010.

In 2011, the Customs Service conducted over 102,000 proceedings concerning cigarette smuggling and over 2,000 concerning alcohol smuggling. These offenses carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine.
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