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The Riigikogu passed ten Acts.

The Public Service Act (193 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 57 votes in favour. The new Public Service Act updates the organisation of public service in Estonia and provides for the legal status of an official. The Act creates preconditions for establishing a simple, clear and effective system of assessment of officials, and provides for a more transparent and fairer salary system which takes into account the labour market and the responsibility and competitiveness of a person. The Act reduces the social guarantees of officials: the additional holiday of officials will be eliminated and the duration of the holiday is established to be 35 calendar days. At the same time, the terms for advance notice in the case of lay-offs are reduced. According to the Act, the Ministry of Finance is the institution responsible for public service. 36 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. The Act enters into force in general part on 1 April 2013.

The Defence Forces Service Act (172 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 83 votes in favour. The general aim of the Act is to organise and update the regulation of Defence Forces service and to bring it into conformity with the changes in the society. The elaboration of the new Defence Forces Service Bill had mainly been motivated by the Defence Forces Organisation Act which entered into force in 2009 and the new Public Service Act. Service in the Defence Forces is one of the specific types of public service and therefore it is necessary to harmonise the principles of the service in the area of administration of the whole state. The Act observes the principle according to which the Defence Forces and members of the Defence Forces are led by the Commander of the Defence Forces. The Minister of Defence establishes the rules organising the service arising from this Act by Regulations but does not interfere with the day-to-day leading of the Defence Forces. The Act has been elaborated in view of the two-pillar model of the management of national defence and tries to determine as exactly as possible the competence of the Commander of the Defence Forces as a professional leader of the armed forces as well as the competence of the Minister of Defence as a political leader of national defence. The Defence Forces Service Act provides for the subjects of the duty to serve in the Defence Forces, Defence Forces service and alternative service, their legal status, the organisation of the performance of the duty to serve in the Defence Forces and the encouragements applied to a member of the Defence Forces, the bases for disciplinary liability, disciplinary punishments and the procedure for disciplinary proceedings. The Act provides for the conditions of service in peace-time and in the circumstances of a state of emergency.

The Defence Forces Service Act Implementation Act (173 SE), initiated by the Government, the purpose of which is to establish the conditions and procedure for the implementation of the Defence Forces Service Act, was passed with 84 votes in favour. Besides providing the procedure for transition from the current regulation to the new regulation, this Act provides amendments to other Acts which have a contact with the Defence Forces Service Act which was in force so far or which need to be amended due to the passage of the new Defence Forces Service Act. The Act enters into force in general part on 1 April 2013.

The Act on Amendments to Acts passed with Majority Vote of Riigikogu related to the Defence Forces Service Act (174 SE), initiated by the Government, the aim of which is to bring the European Parliament Election Act, the Citizenship Act, the Local Government Council Election Act, the Peace-Time National Defence Act, the Riigikogu Election Act, the War-Time National Defence Act and the President of the Republic Election Act into conformity with the amendments made to the Defence Forces Service Act, was passed with 85 votes in favour. The amendments made to these Acts mostly concern terminology, for example, the concept “regular member of the Defence Forces” is replaced by the concept “member in active service of the Defence Forces”. At the same time, the establishing of the mobilisation register is transferred from the Defence Forces Service Act to the Peace-Time National Defence Act because it is not a service-related register in its essence (like the register of persons liable to service in the Defence Forces) which should be regulated by the Defence Forces Service Act. The provisions concerning the increasing of military readiness and mobilisation which so far were in the Defence Forces Service Act are now regulated by the Peace-Time National Defence Act and the War-Time National Defence Act because the Defence Forces Service Act regulates only peace-time service. The Act enters into force on 1 April 2013.

The Act on Amendments to Family Law Act (214 SE), initiated by the Government, the aim of which is to specify the wording of the Act in regard to the expenses incurred for the daily maintenance of a ward, was passed with 84 votes in favour. A guardian no longer has to indicate separately and certify documentarily the expenses incurred for the maintenance of a ward in the annual report; it is enough to indicate the amount spent every month. The former wording of the Family Law Act, if interpreted grammatically, allowed to understand the Act in such a way that under subsection 194 (2) of the Act, guardians must certify one by one and with receipts, among other things, also the expenses incurred for the daily maintenance of a ward.

The Act on Amendments to the Administrative Cooperation Act and the Sports Act (200 SE), initiated by the Government, the aim of which is to ensure the processing of the data of the sports database and the hosting of the database with the highest possible quality and efficiency by allowing the functions of the authorised processor to be transferred to a legal person in private law established with the participation of the state who has a long experience of collecting, processing and administrating sports data, was passed with 83 votes in favour. The Act enters into force on 1 July 2012.

The Act on Amendments to the Republic of Estonia Education Act and Other Associated Acts (223 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 84 votes in favour. The amendments provide for the transfer of the functions of the National Examinations and Qualifications Centre to the foundation Innove administrated by the Ministry and, respectively, termination of the activities of the National Examinations and Qualifications Centre. According to the Act, after the conclusion of the contract under public law, the Foundation Innove will become a central authority coordinating the general and vocational education programmes and developments. The renewed Foundation Innove will be divided into three structural units: the general education and monitoring agency, the vocational education agency and the structural assistance agency. The aim of the reorganisations is to centralise under these agencies all implementation in the relevant fields, including programmes and projects, of the area of government of the Ministry of Education and Research. This gives the Ministry an opportunity to reduce fragmentation in management and to change today’s situation where several subunits of the Ministry of Education and Research operate in one field. The Act enters into force on 1 August 2012.

The Act on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act (224 SE), initiated by the Government, the aim of which is to strengthen pharmacovigilance and to rationalise the system of the supervision of the safety of medicinal products for human use, to better protect public health, to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and to simplify the current rules and procedures, was passed with 85 votes in favour. The roles and obligations of holders of marketing authorisations for medicinal products, member states and their competent authorities and the European Medicines Agency in the fulfilment of these aims are specified. The initiator stated that an estimated 5% of all cases of hospitalisation are caused by adverse reactions of medicinal products, and adverse reactions of medicinal products take the fifth place among the most widespread causes of death of hospital patients. The Act enters into force on 21 July 2012.

The Act on Amendments to § 50² of the Health Care Services Organisation Act (198 SE), initiated by the Government, the aim of which is to provide additional rights to the expert committee on the quality of healthcare so that the committee would be capable of processing the applications submitted to the committee efficiently and legitimately in the changed circumstances, was passed with 85 votes in favour. The amendment imposes an obligation on the Ministry of Social Affairs to ensure the necessary organisational support to the committee and enables to engage the lawyers and experts of the Ministry of Social Affairs in the activities of the committee with a view to increasing the competence of the committee and avoiding later disputes. Besides, the Act gives the committee the right to obtain also the explanations of the relevant provider of health care service, in addition to documented data (medical history, health records card), from the provider of the health care service, for providing an expert assessment.

The Act on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act (205 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 85 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments is to ensure the availability of the state guaranteed and financed national stock of antidotes needed for the treatment of poisonings, and the central management thereof, in order to reduce the number of deaths due to injury caused by poisoning. In addition to the current scheme of procurement and financing of antidotes (the hospital procures the antidotes and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays for them from the health insurance budget in the bed day price), a state guaranteed and financed reserve of primary antidotes is established. A provider of health care service who has been entered in the list of the Health Board has an opportunity to choose whether to apply for listed antidotes from the Health Board or to procure antidotes on its own and to receive compensation from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund later.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Social Tax Act and Other Associated Acts (222 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of this Act is to transpose the directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity. For ensuring equal treatment and elimination of restrictions on enterprise, similar social benefits must be guaranteed both for men and women. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Other Acts (241 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The amendments ensure transition to sectoral functioning model in the Tax and Customs Board whereby a single uniform service area will be established instead of four administrative service areas. The initiator asserted that sectoral management allows for more flexibility in the distribution of tasks in view of the actual workload, experience and competence of officials regardless of in which city the official is located. The transition to the new functioning model is also motivated by changes in customer behaviour due to the year by year increase in the volume of e-services and in the number of users of e-services which has brought down the number of visits to customer service centres. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Marital Property Register Act, the Notary Fees Act and the Civil Status Acts Act (219 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the amendments is to create preconditions for transition to an electronic marital property register, implementation of electronic registry cards and files and simplifying viewing the data entered in the marital property register. To fulfil this aim, the processing software for marital property register was created on the initiative of the Centre of Registers and Information Systems in November 2011 which, as a tool of land registry departments, is the first step towards the electronic marital property register. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

The Riigikogu Press Service

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