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The Riigikogu passed with 78 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (353 & 386 SE). The Merchant Shipping Act is amended by adding the regulation concerning the insurance with regard to the contract of carriage of passengers by sea arising from the corresponding Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents). According to the amendment, the Estonian Maritime Administration will issue certificates concerning the existence of the insurance to ships. On the basis of the above, the Maritime Safety Act, the Ports Act and the State Fees Act are also amended correspondingly. Another purpose of the Act is to grant the right and obligation to review complaints of maritime passengers to the Consumer Protection Board. This establishes the legal basis for proceeding the complaints of maritime passengers in the case of possible infringements of this EU Regulation, and passengers are be granted the right to protect their rights more effectively and they have the possibility to turn to the Consumer Protection Board as the competent authority.

The Act on Amendments to Acts in connection with the Ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and Headquarters, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation to Supplement the Paris Protocol (385 SE) was passed with 75 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to amend the Acts necessary for the implementation of the supplementary Agreement and to thereby enforce the supplementary Agreement. This Act enters into force on 1 July 2013; § 9 of the Act enters into force on 1 January 2014.

The Act on the Ratification of a Protocol on the Concerns of the Irish People on the Treaty of Lisbon, to be Annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (390 SE) was passed with 75 votes in favour. The Protocol discusses the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Lisbon Treaty in such fields as the right to life, family and education, taxation, security and defence, and affirms the respect for and the validity of certain principles arising from the Constitution of Ireland in these fields also after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The agreement regarding the annexation of the Protocol to the treaties establishing the European Union was necessary in order to enable the approval of the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum in Ireland on 2 October 2009.

On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Organic Farming Act and the State Fees Act (405 SE) was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to simplify the requirements for preparation and placing on the market of an organic product in catering operations and to provide the notification obligation instead of the approval obligation for undertakings. Also, the supervision competence of the authorities within the area of government of the Ministry of Agriculture as regards the supervision exercised over organic feed is specified, and the Organic Farming Act and the State Fees Act are updated according to the needs that have become apparent during the implementation of the Acts. In comparison to the Organic Farming Act which is currently in force, the administrative burden of undertakings will be reduced once the amendments enter into force. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Media Services Act and Associated Acts (336 SE) was concluded. The main purpose of the amendments is to create a legal regulation and administrative organisation which would meet the principles of the European Union and the Council of Europe in the media services field and would help ensure the independence of the regulatory body and would take account of the developments of recent years in the Estonian media services market. A situation in conformity with the principles of independence would be one where the granting of media service licences was decided and supervision was exercised by a separate authority. According to the Bill, the functions of the regulation and supervision of media services will be assigned to the Technical Surveillance Authority operating within the area of administration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Its task would be the evaluation of the applications submitted to the competition for the activity licences for the provision of media services, the granting of licences, the registration of on-demand audiovisual media services, the supervision of compliance with the requirements of the Act and with the conditions of the activity licence, the imposition of state coercion, etc. According to the current law, the abovementioned obligations fall within the competence of the Ministry of Culture and this model does not fit in with the principles recognised in Europe. The Cultural Affairs Committee added five amendments to the Bill in the course of the second reading. The amendments concern forwarding of commercial announcements in children’s programmes, the obligation of the communications undertaking to forward data concerning the licence of the service provider of a retransmittable programme or a programme catalogue, restricting of the availability of services to minors, licences for the provision of television and radio services, and the use of the Estonian language in advertising. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Other Acts (414 SE) was concluded. The aim of the Act is to improve the administrative capacity for the taxpayer as well as the tax authority and to ensure greater legal clarity. The amendments promote electronic records management which will reduce the number of documents forwarded on paper to taxable persons and simplify and speed up the communication between the tax authority and the taxable person. The purpose of the advance and follow-up notification system of monetary and non-monetary obligations IRIS developed by the Tax and Customs Board is to link the advance and follow-up notifications forwarded to the taxable person into a single process. IRIS will be interfaced with the e-service environment of the Tax and Customs Board. The Bill also reduces the terms for determining the amount of tax and for expiry of the limitation period for the collection of the amount of tax. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (392 SE) was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to establish the concept of day treatment in specialised medical care, and to establish by a draft of the implementing regulation the conditions for the provision of this service, and to eliminate the concept of “care treatment” and “care hospital” in the context of specialised medical care. Upon the entry into force of the amendments, the concept of “nursing hospital” will be used instead of “care hospital”, and the concept of “independently provided in-patient nursing care” will be used instead of “care treatment” in the future. The in-patient nursing care service (today “care treatment service”) is essentially a nursing activity, and the main activities include nursing operations and care activity related to nursing operations. Where necessary, the doctor gives consultations and makes treatment orders. Deciding on the need for nursing operations and the performance thereof will be within the competence of the nurse. In addition, the Bill creates an opportunity, besides special care homes, also for general care homes (regardless of the form of ownership) to apply for an activity licence for the provision of the home nursing service, and allows a nurse to independently certify, in the course of the provision of nursing care services, the fact of the death of a person who dies. The Social Affairs Committee made five amendments to the Bill in the course of the second reading: among other things, the period for application for the start-up allowance after the completion of residency is extended to five years, the workload required for application for the allowance is reduced and the list of hospitals where it is possible to apply for the start-up allowance upon assumption of employment is expanded. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Punishment Register Act (413 SE) was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to solve several problems that have arisen in implementing the Punishment Register Act that pertain to the data maintained in the register, access to the data, correction of inaccurate data and entering in the archives the information concerning punishments which has been deleted. The limits of the terms for deletion of the information concerning punishments are changed and the interruption of the term for deletion of the information concerning punishments in consequence of commission of another offence is eliminated. New data sets are added to the data composition of the punishment register: the date of commission of the offence, the place of birth of the person, the former name of the person, and the names of the person’s mother and father. The initiator asserted that the date of the commission of the offence is very necessary for the punishment register because commission of another offence interrupts the term for deletion of previous offences. At present it is not included in the data composition of the punishment register but at the same time the punishment register has an obligation to take account of these data. As a result of the amendments, the work of the punishment register and data exchange with the European Union will improve. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act and the Identity Documents Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (425 SE) was concluded. The main purpose of the Bill arises from the Government’s action programme 2011‒2015 which states that a favourable environment for attracting foreign students and top specialists to Estonia will be created in order to increase the competitiveness of the Estonian economy. This Bill provides for more favourable conditions for temporary arrival and settling in Estonia for persons who contribute to the development of Estonian society. Also, national regulation is brought into conformity with European Union law and the bases of issuing of a residence permit are specified on the basis of a judgment of the Supreme Court en banc. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

The Riigikogu Press Service

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