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The Warsaw Voice » Law » November 29, 2012
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Law in brief
November 29, 2012   
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Helping SMEs Operate in the EU
The European Union is working on a new directive on public procurement. Brussels also wants to regulate licenses for services. “The changes are mainly intended to enable small and medium-sized businesses to take part in public tenders for services in another EU member state, including services for local government authorities in other countries,” Róża Thun, an EU deputy from the Civic Platform (PO) party, told the Newseria news agency.

She added, “The changes concern the terms of public procurement. The spirit of the proposal is to make the market more open so that it is not only large businesses that take part in public tenders. The goal is to make public procurement regulations simpler and more transparent and accessible to small and medium-sized businesses from all EU countries.”

The directive on public procurement will contain provisions making it easier to provide services for businesses and institutions in other EU member states. The formal and financial requirements associated with submitting tenders and disclosure obligations in public procurement projects will be relaxed.

The proposed directive on licenses for services concerns partnership agreements between public institutions, for example local government authorities, and private businesses—agreements under which the latter take on the risk involved in the maintenance and expansion of infrastructure such as roads, ports, water supply systems and parking lots, or will deliver electricity, water and sewage, healthcare, waste management and other public services. “After these regulations come into force, an entrepreneur from Poland, for instance, will be able to provide municipal services in another country,” Thun says.

The directive will cover issues which are still not regulated by EU legislation. Its goal is to guarantee access to licenses for all European businesses, including small and medium-sized ones, and develop public-private partnership in the EU.

Coordinated Criminal Proceedings
At the beginning of October a set of regulations took effect across the European Union to streamline criminal proceedings and prevent situations in which the same person can be tried for the same offense in two different member countries. Poland’s Criminal Procedure Code has been amended to bring Polish regulations in line with the decisions of the EU Council.

One of these decisions requires Polish courts and prosecutors to contact judicial authorities in another EU country when there is a suspicion that an individual could face criminal proceedings for an offense for which they have been tried in another country. Such a suspicion may arise from witness accounts or the international nature of the offense. In the event of difficulties in finding the authority in question, the Polish justice administration system will be able to turn to the European Judicial Network.

Polish courts and prosecutors are also required to answer any double jeopardy queries from other countries.

The new rules also apply to the use of so-called non-custodial measures by EU member states. This involves measures of supervision as an alternative to detention—police supervision, bail, suspension of one’s right to practice a profession or drive a car.

For example, if a Polish court or prosecutor imposes any of these measures on someone living in France, they will transfer the enforcement of the measure to the local judicial authorities. And such a person will have to report to the police in France, for example.

Nuclear Power Professionals Welcome
Under a regulation issued by the Polish Ministry of the Environment and in effect since Oct. 2, Poland will recognize the qualifications of professionals trained in other EU member states and seeking to work in any of the nuclear power plants that Poland plans to build under its nuclear power development program. In particular, this involves positions of responsibility for nuclear reactors and material safety, power plant management and commissioning, as well as coordination and supervision of training programs in the sector.

Arbitration Becomes Popular
A growing number of companies are choosing to settle disputes through arbitration. The main task of courts of arbitration is to persuade parties in conflict to reach an agreement. The Polish Chamber of Commerce’s Court of Arbitration is approached with around 300-400 cases a year. Marek Furtek, president of the Court of Arbitration, says that quick proceedings, confidentiality and competence are the main pluses of arbitration. Arbitration proceedings take between nine and 15 months on average. As a way to settle a dispute, arbitration is most popular among construction companies, which account for 40 percent of all cases. Businesses operating in the energy sector choose this form of settling disputes almost as frequently.

The Polish Chamber of Commerce’s Court of Arbitration has a tradition dating back 60 years. An Arbitrator’s Court at the Polish Chamber of Foreign Trade was established in 1950. In its present form, the court started operating in Warsaw in 1990 and has since become the most respected court of arbitration in the country. Its reputation extends outside Poland, as 20 percent of cases handled by it are international affairs.
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