HISTORY AND MISSION OF THE “CENTER”
Regardless of the assessment of cooperation of financial experts from Central and Eastern Europe countries before 1990 (after World War II appearing as socialist countries and Yugoslavia), it should be noted that it had, among others, a formula of scientific symposia organised every 2 years by the individual countries of the region. The last of them (n.b. The 10th Anniversary) took place in May 1991 in Opatija (Croatia) and was on “Fiskalni sistemi u prelaznom rozdobliu”. The conference, organised on a grand scale by Prof. Božidara Jelčica, is still mentioned by its participants with fondness, as are the sophisticated anecdotes from this meeting.
The socio-economic and political transformations of the 1990s interrupted this cooperation. However, the need for its establishment and institutionalisation continued in academic circles, which is why on 6 September 2002 the founding meeting of the Association “Center” was held in Bialystok. There are 20 signatures of founding members on the founding act. On 19-21 September 2002, during the international conference on “Methods and instruments limiting the public debt and budget deficit in Central and Eastern Europe” the first meeting was organised with the participation of foreign guests from 6 Central and Eastern European countries (photo 2). The “Center” was registered as an association existing at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bialystok and with its seat there under KRS number 0000136524 by the District Court of Bialystok Rejonowy, XII Commercial Division of the National Court Register.
On 30 April 2004 the Association “Center” obtained the status of a public benefit organization. Although this entails additional reporting obligations, it enables the organisation to collect 1% of payments of members’ income tax. It also facilitates applications for external funds to finance its activities.
Based on the resolution of the General Meeting of the Association “Center” of 1 October 2008, the Rector of the Voronezh State University created an All-Russia branch of the “Center” (Ordinance No, 460 of 21 October 2008). It functions as an autonomous organizational unit of the “Center”, at the Voronezh State University. It is headed by Prof. Marina Karasieva (Sentzova).
The founding of the Association “Center” was accompanied by a vision of creating a forum of good cooperation between academics and practitioners dealing with public finances and tax law from countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This was particularly difficult and crucial in the period of diverse socio-political transformations in these countries and their membership of various international organisations. This is why an extremely important issue was agreeing working languages of the Association so that they would optimally serve the realisation of the outlined vision. Naturally, due to the location of the seat of the “Center” and the legal system in force, the official language is Polish (in the All-Russia branch in Voronezh it is Russian, accordingly). However, the languages of the conferences are English and Russian as well as – at the request of the organisers of the individual annual academic conferences – the language or languages of other countries. In the framework of the adopted vision – the Association “Center” should meet the requirements of the International Research Organisation and adapt to the priorities of research activities and the rules of funding of the changing reality.
As far as the Association “Center” dynamically executes the accepted vision its members may express themselves. One of the possible assessments in this area is presented in Chapter III of this issue of the Bulletin by Prof. E. Chernikova. It indicates the existence of a spirit of cooperation, understanding and mutual respect in the Association “Center”, which is particularly valuable in the International Research Organizations.
The mission of the Association “Center” is defined in its Statute, adopted by the Meeting of Founding Members of the Association in Bialystok on 6 September 2002. The main objective of the Association is to collect information about the research/scientific initiatives of its members, exchange information, provide inspiration and conduct joint research and conferences as well as help in their implementation. The “Center” conducts the exchange of information between research centres in Poland and abroad, initiates cooperation with centres with similar objectives operating in the country and abroad, and collaborates with governmental and non-governmental organizations. An important aim of the Association is to promote European standards in the field of public finance and tax law in Poland and the other countries represented by the members of the Association as well as exchange experience with other countries. The Association may also conduct publishing activities and organize training. An important aspect of the functioning of the Association is to act as intermediaries in contacts between research centres in Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe. In recent years an important task of the Association has become the cooperation between research and practice, as well as help in the development and education of young personnel. The Association has also made an attempt at multifaceted support and influence on research assessments of the members and the scientific institutions that they represent, besides publicising their achievements in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as on a European and global scale.
The mission of the Association is carried out in various forms and through various initiatives. These are proposed and adopted by the members and organs of the Association. Here one should note the constant development of human resources and territory of the “Center”. At the beginning of 2016 there were 300 members from 14 European countries belonging to the Association.
The priority of the Association “Center” is to establish and develop research contacts as well as conduct joint research. The Association takes part in the elaboration of thematic proposals, assistance in the implementation of scientific conferences and issuing of publications, and practical participation of members from different countries in various studies and scientific contacts. It is possible to mention several research projects in which scores of members of the Association implementation took part. Comparative studies on selected countries in Central and Eastern Europe are particularly important here.
The flagship achievement of the Association “Center” is the annual international scientific conference, held in September in successive countries in which the Association has members. As a rule, the organizers are the Department of Financial Law and Tax in collaboration with the “Center”. Most of the conferences take place on the premises of the university of the hosts of the conference, which creates additional conditions to establish closer cooperation between the various universities in the future. The subject of the conference is important from the point of view of the study of public finance and financial law on an international level. The conferences always end with the publication of the conference proceedings. These conferences, giving the possibility of an annual meeting of representatives of many countries, are also a forum for the exchange of thoughts and ideas of members of the Association and provide the opportunity to develop a variety of personal and institutional contacts. So far, the “Center” has held 20 international scientific conferences.
The results of scientific research are presented in the form of scientific publications, which have become an essential element of the Association’s activities. This concerns both the scientific monographs of a comparative nature as well as post-conference publications. The “Center” also publishes two journals of its own, in the form of annuals. The “Annual Center Review” has been published jointly with the Faculty of Law at the University of Bialystok since 2008. This is a journal published in English with the possibility of publishing texts in Russian. Until 2011 it was of an organisational and album character. Since 2012 it has been geared mainly to popularising new research ideas in public finance and tax law in Central and Eastern European countries and spreading the achievements of the young research workers of this part of Europe.
The annual “Public finance and tax law”, issued by the “Center” and Voronezh State University, has been published since 2010. It is a journal published in Russian, with the possibility to publish texts in English. The individual issues refer to selected problems regarding the science and practice of public finance and tax law in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and are monographic in nature. So far, 6 annuals have been published. This journal is becoming more popular on the market in this part of Europe, both because of the unique issues it deals with, the range of international authors, as well as the possibility of obtaining national scoring for texts published there
The publications of the Association, including reports, information and reviews about its activities, are also important.
Young academics and practitioners are an important part of the Association “Center”. Hence one of the main tasks of the Organization is considered to be assistance in their scientific development and setting high standards in this regard. Besides supporting participation in international conferences (and active participation in them), the promotion of their publications (one of the main tasks of the ACR), the “Center” has taken on the task of inspiring doctorates in two languages (so-called double doctorates). In 2015, there were two such defences: Dr. Damian Czudka and Dr. Michał Kozieł at the Faculty of Law of Masaryk University in Brno. The promoter in both defences was associate professor Dr. Petr Mrkývka, and the copromoters were, respectively, Professor Leonard Etel and Professor Eugene Ruśkowski. Preparatory work on further double doctorates is underway. Chapter VI of this issue of the Bulletin contains more detailed data in this area and a mini photo service.
Above has been indicated the major direct initiatives and activities of the Association “Center” in the organization of research and exchange of information. However, indirect influence of the organisation on the supplementing and complementing of research initiatives relevant to the activities of members of the Association is also important. For example, the following ongoing initiatives bear witness to this:
• in May 2017 at the Faculty of Law of the University of Bialystok, an international seminar held on local government finances, organized by FONDAFIP and the Department of Public Finance and Financial Law and Tax Law. It was conducted in Polish and French (with translation). Invitations sent to members of the “Center” interested in the issues and familiar with Polish or French;
• on the initiative of the authorities of “Center”, in September 2015 an agreement was signed on scientific cooperation between the following departments: the Department of Public Finance and Financial Law (Faculty of Law of the University of Bialystok), Department of Tax Law (Faculty of Law of the University of Bialystok), Department of Financial and Tax
• Law (Faculty of Law of the PJ Šafárik University), Department of Administrative and Financial Law (Faculty of Law of the Széchenyi István University), Department of Economic and Financial Law (Faculty of Law of Masaryk University). This is aimed at forming the basis for joint research and strengthening the efforts for financing research projects with national and international funding. It also aims to provide additional opportunities for members of “Center” to undertake specific research activities;
• In 2015 an organizational structure of the international scientific journal “Public Governance, Administration and Finances Law Review” was founded in Budapest, published by Wolters Kluwer (Hungary). The “Center” will try to actively participate in its work, through the participation of its members in the Publishing Council of the journal, by writing articles and by promoting its content in the “ACR”.
These examples show the significance and multifaceted influence of the Association “Center” on the development of financial science among members of the organization, as well as at universities and in the practice of the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe” which are covered by the activities of the Association.
In November 2021, the General Assembly of the Center decided to change the name of the association from “Center for Information and Organization of Public Finance and Tax Law Research of the Countries of the Central and Eastern Europe” to “International Center of Public Finance and Tax Law Research”. This is due to the ambition to expand the territorial scope of the scientific activity of the Center and make it a kind of scientific bridge between the countries of the East and the West.