– The number of new acts is increasing from year to year, which only seems to be good news. MPs’ productivity is not accompanied by high quality of work – Piotr Wołejko, expert of Employers of Poland, says.
Last year, the Sejm passed one hundred ninety six acts, which is thirty acts more than in 2013 and over sixty acts more than in 2012. It is true that the record of 2008, when over two hundred fifty acts were enacted, has not been broken but we are getting close to the 2009-2011 average, when the number of new acts was two hundred thirty per year. This plethora of legal acts is unfortunately combined with unsatisfactory quality and sometimes shameful errors or omissions in the regulations. In 2014 two most notorious acts were – amendment of the Energy Law on standards for coal and trading this resource, and a great confusion with publishing vacatio legis the Act on taxing controlled foreign companies (CFCs).
In 2014 Polish system of lawmaking showed a number of weaknesses. There was a number of bad practice examples e.g. the government projects under the guise of their submission by a group of deputies. It is true that speeds up work on laws, but greatly impedes their good preparation, because the government omitted and the stage of work carried out in the framework of public consultation.
Another bad practice ministries proposing numerous changes in bills and members of the government majority submitting them. In this way, a bill changes radically in relation to the content of its first version. It is a mockery of the government's stage of the legislative process and of engaging stakeholders, including employers' organizations, in public consultations.
The third major problem is the time spent on projects. In some cases it is far too short, which de facto does not allow a thorough analysis of the project, while work on other projects goes on for months – the pace of work is not good both in parliament, where it is regulated by the Marshal of the Sejm and chairmen of committees, as well as in the government – the ministers do not seem to be particularly interested in the efficiency of proceeding acts for which they are responsible.
List of errors and distortions is longer, but instead of extending it we should focus on constructive demands for change. Recently, some researchers have proposed adopting the Law on the preparation of legislative acts or an amendment to the Sejm regulations. In the latter case, the change is necessary, because the rules are already twenty two years old and do not meet the current needs. In 2013 there was a thorough modernization of the Staff Regulations of the Council of Ministers (the previous was from 2002.). It is suggested that the Parliament followed the trail of the Council of Ministers and revised procedures for the legislative process. While making changes in the Regulations of the Sejm, one should also introduce clear rules for the participation of representatives of the trade unions and other stakeholders, including employers' organizations in the legislative work at the level of committees and subcommittees. Leaving this matter in the sole discretion of the chairmen of these bodies significantly hinders participation in meetings of committees and subcommittees. Arbitrary decisions of chairmen should be replaced with a general principle of the participation of representatives of social partners in the work of committees and subcommittees.
In relation to the government stage in the legislative process Employers’ of Poland demands remain unchanged: a much greater emphasis on public consultation, further improving the quality of impact assessments, considering the idea of preparation – like in the EU – green and white papers in case of particularly relevant legislation and ensuring full transparency in the various stages of project development – especially at interdepartmental consultations stage.
Piotr Wołejko, expert of Employers of Poland