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The Riigikogu passed with 75 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Law of Obligations Act and Other Acts (813 SE), initiated by the Government. The main purpose of the amendments is to harmonise the regulation of consumer contracts in the Law of Obligations Act to a greater extent with European Union directives in order to prevent initiation of new infringement proceedings against Estonia and to ensure termination of the proceedings which have already been initiated. In addition, several proposals are made to bring the Act into conformity with the provisions regulating the consumer’s contractual rights. The purpose of amendments is to update the Law of Obligations Act also as regards the regulation of advance payments in case of consumer contracts. The Act enters into force on 5 April 2011 and § 2 of the Act enters into force on 1 July 2011.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Structural Assistance for the Period of 2007‒2013 Act and Associated Acts (836 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to add more detailed rules to the Act as regards the granting and refunding of assistance in order to ensure more effective use of the assistance. As a preventive measure, the authority to set target levels of the use of the assistance for the ministries planning the measures is provided in order to reduce the possibility of reducing the amount of assistance permitted for the state arising from the N+2/3 rule. In order to ensure the fulfilment of the cross-measure coordinating activity of the managing authority, an obligation to approve programmes with the managing authority is expressly added. Cross-measure criteria for assessment of the financial capability of local governments are established. With a view to reducing the administrative burden, there will be an opportunity to establish in the Regulation on reclaims and refundings a minimum amount of reclaim starting from which assistance will not be reclaimed. The Bill will help prevent the arising of hopeless reclaims and it will be allowed to refuse to pay assistance if the final recipient fails to complete the project. In order to mitigate the liquidity problem of the European territorial cooperation and European and neighbourhood policy programmes, it will be possible to apply for self financing assistance. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 17 of the Food Act (883 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, the Food Act will be brought into conformity with the corresponding Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. After the entry into force of the Act, the requirements concerning flavourings will no longer be provided in national legislation but in a directly applicable EU Regulation. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Research and Development Organisation Act (864 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill changes the system of financing of the research and development activities and establishes the Estonian Research Agency the functions of which will include organisation and carrying out of the assessment of applications for research grants, allocation of personal research grants, as well as analysing of the effectiveness and impact of research grants. As it is, the term of authority of the Scientific Competence Council will end on 28 February 2012. The membership of a research and development institution is determined such that it will involve the participation of support staff which is necessary in the realisation of every research topic while the current system provides no means for financing such staff. One of the most important aims is to increase the effectiveness of Doctoral study: Doctoral candidates will be granted social guarantees equal to those of employees and the career system of researchers will be rearranged. For this purpose, the position of junior research fellow is provided mainly to involve Doctoral candidates in research work, the regulation concerning research professor is improved at the level of a relevant Regulation, the definition of post-doctoral researcher is regulated at the level of the Act and several other amendments are made. These amendments should increase the number of students who make it to defend their Doctoral thesis. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Cemeteries Bill (888 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to resolve the vague and unregulated situation where there is no legal regulation which would ensure uniformity and consistency in the establishing and administration of cemeteries. Thus, the Act establishes the requirements for burying the body of a person or the remains of a dead person to a cemetery or cremation thereof and regulates the establishing, management and use of a cemetery and the closing of a cemetery for burials. It also establishes the requirements for storing and transportation of the deceased. The Bill resolves the vague situation where the maintenance of cemeteries and burial customs depend on the preference of the user of the cemetery or the administrator. The Bill helps to harmonise the activities of cemeteries in different local governments. 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 Act on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors thereof (886 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Act on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors thereof in order to enable handling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for training service dogs at the Estonian Public Service Academy. The initiator stated that because instructors of service dogs do not have the permit for handling narcotic drugs which is necessary for them in order to carry out the study process, the quality of the training has deteriorated and this has reduced the capability of sniffer dogs to detect narcotic substances. 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 Public Information Act and the Police and Border Guard Act (891 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to specify unregulated legal relations and the provisions that are insufficiently regulated, in connection with the establishing of the Police and Border Guard Administration. The Bill specifies the Public Information Act with a provision according to which the information concerning the weapons used by the police is classified as information intended for internal use. The Police and Border Guard Act is amended with specifications which regulate the detention of persons, the entry of the police into a fenced or marked immovable without the consent of the possessor thereof, physical examination of persons by police officers, the use of the alcoholometer, the stopping of vehicles, handing over of an intoxicated minor to his or her parents, etc. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
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