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The Riigikogu approved with 80 votes in favour the 2014–2020 Structural Assistance Act (622 SE), initiated by the Government, which provides for operational programmes in the investment for growth and jobs, and for the use of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, as well as programmes for the promotion of the European Territorial Cooperation Programme and the EU Cross-border Cooperation Programme. For implementation of the Investment for growth and jobs goal, Estonia can receive a total of 3.5 billion euro from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund. Estonia can receive 55.4 million euro for the European Territorial Cooperation and the European Union Cross-border Cooperation objectives from the European Regional Development Fund, and 7.1 million euro for the objective of the Fund for European Aid from the allocation of the Fund to Estonia. The Act provides for the national division of tasks necessary for the implementation of the abovementioned operational programmes and programmes, the provisions delegating authority to establish legislative acts concerning the conditions for the grant of assistance, the main procedural provisions concerning the grant of assistance, and the obligations of applicants for assistance and recipients. 

The Riigikogu also passed with 80 votes in favour the Tallinn University of Technology Act (619 SE), initiated by the Government, which provides for the autonomy of Tallinn University of Technology and the specifications for the bases and organisation of the activities of Tallinn University of Technology as compared to other universities in public law. The Act defines the areas of responsibility and the main objectives of the study and research activities of Tallinn University of Technology. The Act also provides for an updating of the management structure of Tallinn University of Technology. The highest management body of the university will be the board of governors, more than half of the members of which will be appointed from outside the academic community by parties from outside the university. The Council of Tallinn University of Technology will be the academic decision-making body who decides on the issues of the education and research and development activities of the university. The Rector will manage the daily activities of the University and represent the University. 

The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of six Bills initiated by the Government: 

The Bill on Amendments to the Universities Act, the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act and the Research and Development Organisation Act (625 SE) changes the regulation concerning the conclusion of contracts of employment with academic staff. The Bill provides for elimination of the specifications in employment relationships in the Employment Contracts Act and in the special Acts specifying the regulation of the employment relationships of academic staff. It will give both parties of an employment relationship an opportunity to develop employment relationships on the basis of the actual character of the work and to take into account the interests and needs of both parties. Application of the regulation of the Employment Contracts Act to full extent to the employment contacts concluded with academic staff will increase the security of employees in regard to the stability of the employment relationship. 

The Bill on Amendments to the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act and Amendments to the Act on Amendments to and Implementation of the Maintenance of Law and Order Act (573 SE)

eliminates inaccuracies in the Act which is currently in force and harmonises the regulations of special Acts with those of the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act. In part, amendments to special Acts are necessary because of the regulations that have changed over time, while some amendments are motivated by the implementation of the Maintenance of Law and Order Act which will enter into force soon. The Bill contains more than 200 motions to amend. Among other things, the Act specifies the application of the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act to the professional activities of advocates, trustees in bankruptcy, patent agents, sworn translators and auditors, and the definition of the specialist in charge in the field of construction. It also specifies, for example, the application for an activity licence and the authorisation obligation in different fields. 

The Maritime Labour Bill (552 SE) regulates the relations that are created between shipowners and crew members on the basis of seafarers’ employment agreements. The Bill is aimed at the establishment of a new normative framework regulating seafarers’ employment agreements. The Maritime Labour Act will lead to changes in the rights and responsibilities of crew members and shipowners. The biggest amendments are connected with seafarers’ employment agreements, the responsibilities of a shipowner in the case of temporary incapacity for work of a crew member, hours of work and rest, the organisation of repatriation, the living quarters and rest areas aboard ships, employment mediation of crew members, and supervision of the working and living conditions of crew members.

The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Family Law Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (546 SE) is to solve the implementation problems that have appeared during the first three years that the Family Law Act has been in force, to correct a few minor errors and to explain several provisions in the interests of better intelligibility and correct interpretation. The Bill extends the protection of shared housing, meaning that, in the future, the protection of the housing of the family will not depend on whether the property forms part of the joint property or separate property of the spouses. The Bill also specifies the order of persons entitled to receive maintenance and persons required to provide maintenance, and the regulation concerning the substitution obligation which arises within the framework of the obligation to provide maintenance. An amendment provides more clearly the possibility of a court to specify the procedure for access to the child if this is in the interests of the child, besides the restriction of the right of access and the prohibition of access. Also, the wording is specified, to clearly set out that an adopted child who has become an adult has the right to obtain information from the county government concerning the fact of his or her adoption also without the consent of the adoptive parent. An adopted child who has become an adult also has the right to obtain, without the consent of the adoptive parent, information from the county government concerning his or her biological parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters if the abovementioned persons have granted consent for disclosure of the corresponding information. 

The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (637 SE) provides for the use an electronic accompanying document upon transport of excise goods in Estonia in the case when excise goods are dispatched from an excise warehouse. The electronic management system for national accompanying documents of excise goods allows for the submission of an electronic application for reimbursement of excise duty, the submission of the accompanying document of excise goods subject to excise duty dispatched to another Member State, and the pre-completion of excise reports according to the data of accompanying documents. The implementation of the electronic system will simplify the preparation and submission of accompanying documents and reports, reduce paper waste, and allow for better monitoring of the movement of excise goods for fiscal control purposes. In addition, the rules for the measurement of excise goods are specified. 

The Bill on Amendments to the Land Tax Act and the Act on Amendments to the Land Tax Act Exempting Home Owners from Land Tax and Amendments to the Land Tax Act and the Income Tax Act (558 SE) provides for the procedure for the calculation of land tax payable on lands which are in state ownership, that is, which have not undergone the land reform, and specifies which lands are exempt from tax as publicly owned land. Also, local governments will be required to submit the basic data necessary for calculating land tax to the Tax and Customs Board through the land tax information system starting from 2017. 

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of two Bills initiated by the Government: 

The aim of the Bill on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the United States of America to Improve International Tax Compliance and to Implement FATCA (673 SE) is to ratify the Agreement between the two countries. The Agreement is based on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of the United States which aims to collect information on U.S. taxpayers and to prevent tax evasion. According to the Agreement, the Tax and Customs Board will annually report information to the U.S. For the implementation of the Agreement, the Ministry of Finance will develop an Act regulating international administrative cooperation in tax matters. Financial institutions of the countries who conclude the Agreement will be treated as complying with the requirements of the Act. The U.S. may apply the withholding 30 percent of any U.S. source payment in the case of financial institutions of the countries who have not concluded the Agreement. All European Union Member States are planning to conclude such an Agreement. A similar exchange of data is also planned within the framework of the OECD and the EU in a longer-term perspective. 

The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act and the Traffic Act (667 SE), initiated by the Government, is to give a patient the right to forward a health declaration for the assessment of his or her state of health to a health care provider via the health information system. The submission of a health declaration to the health care provider of the patient is necessary for the assessment of his or her state of health before the issue of a medical certificate. The Bill is also connected with the updating of the submission of medical certificates with a view to creating a possibility for health care providers to submit them to the Road Administration electronically via the health information system. For that purpose, the provisions relating to medical examination in the Traffic Act are amended. 

The Riigikogu suspended the second reading of a Bill: 

The Riigikogu suspended with 50 votes in favour the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Punishment Register Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure Implementation Act, the State Fees Act, the State Secrets and Classified Information of Foreign States Act and the State Legal Aid Act (578 SE), initiated by the Government. The Social Democratic Party Faction made the motion for suspension. The main purpose of the Bill is to amend and organise the regulation concerning international cooperation in criminal procedure in the Code of Criminal Procedure. The need for the amendment is due to the problems that have emerged in the practice of international cooperation, as well as the obligation related to European Union membership to transpose the legislation approved in the European Union into Estonian legislation. The Bill is also aimed at solving several other problems that have arisen in practice in implementing the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Punishment Register Act, the State Fees Act and the State Legal Aid Act. 

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): https://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno&stcommand=stenogramm&day=04&date=1401879431 

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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