The impact of EU legal acts on Polish legislation is indisputable. EU regulations are either directly binding (regulations) or have to implemented into our legal system (directives). By April 20th, the Sejm of the VII term had already passed 99 acts executing EU law, with a further twelve draft being proceeded. During its term, this Sejm has passed 557 bills, so it is easy to calculate that a.o. 20 percent of all bills execute EU law.
It is at the EU level that many key issues for our country are resolved. The most recent example is provided by the new directives on public procurement passed in 2014, the implementation of which is a key element of the draft of the new Public Procurement Act recently presented for consultation. These directives establish the framework which Polish legislators cannot overstep. However, when it comes to regulations, legislative institutions have nothing to say, as these acts are binding for all member countries – directly and without exceptions.
In light of that, we expect the Council of Ministers to actively participate in the EU legislation process, a.o. by presenting its position regarding drafts. Sadly, we see many shortcomings in this respect which need to be corrected urgently.
We believe that the Council is far too reluctant to consult the drafts of its positions with social partners. Even if such documents are consulted, the deadline for submitting comments and suggestions makes the submission de facto impossible. We repeatedly urged the authorities to consult the government’s position towards EU regulations in good faith and with a reasonable schedule conducive to submitting comments. However, apart from isolated initiatives, for example on the part of the Ministry of Economy, our appeals were not met with a positive reception.
Moreover, finding the government’s positions on EU acts on the websites of ministries or the Chancellery of the Prime Minister is nigh on impossible and requires time, craft and often luck as well. If we, legislation experts, have trouble with that, how likely is it that regular citizens find the documents they need?
We expect the Council of Ministers to address these problems immediately, first by creating a public database of positions it sends to the EU. If such a database already exists, which despite many efforts cannot be ruled out for sure, then the government should promote it.
At the same time, unified regulations for all ministries and central government institutions on consulting legal acts and other EU documents should be created, obliging these institutions to involve social partners in consultations and to establish a reasonable deadline for submitting comments.
The actions outlined above will not only improve the transparency of the EU legislative process, but also facilitate defending Polish interests in the European Union.
Piotr Wołejko, expert of Employers of Poland