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Today, the Riigikogu passed seven Acts; one Act was not passed at the final voting.

The Riigikogu passed with 74 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Prosecutor’s Office Act (814 SE), initiated by the Government. One of the purposes of the Act is to emphasise the independence of prosecutors. The prosecutor’s office is independent in the performance of its functions arising from law and it acts pursuant to Acts and legislation issued on the basis thereof. The Act provides as a significant amendment the obligation of the Chief Public Prosecutor to submit a review concerning the performance of the functions imposed on the prosecutor’s office by law to the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu once a year. The Chief Public Prosecutor may also additionally present reports concerning significant problems which have an extensive effect or need prompt settlement which become known in the course of the activities of the prosecutor’s office to the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu. In addition, the Act discusses the disciplinary liability of prosecutors and imposing penalties on them and the release from service for a disciplinary offence. The amendments provide the possibility to differentiate the salary rate in connection with working in certain regions (e.g. Ida-Virumaa) and amend the regulation of the on-call time and the conditions of remuneration of prosecutors. According to the Act, additional remuneration in an amount of up to ten per cent of the salary of the prosecutor is paid for on-call time during which the prosecutor has to be available twenty-four hours a day and to go to the scene of events if necessary.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Population Register Act and Associated Acts (876 SE), initiated by the Government, the purpose of which is to resolve the problems that have arisen in the implementation of the Population Register Act, to enhance and simplify the entry of data on the place of residence in the population register for the subjects of the population register, to ensure the use of data of the population register upon performance of public duties and to prevent duplicated collection of the data collected to the population register to other database, was passed with 75 votes in favour. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2012.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act, the Public Information Act and the Archives Act (564 SE), initiated by the Government, was not passed at the final voting. 26 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and 39 members voted against, thus the Act failed to gain the support of the Riigikogu and was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
 
The General Part of the Environmental Code Act (799 SE), initiated by the Government, which as a framework Act provides the basic concepts of environmental law, the principles of environmental protection, everyone’s duties, the obligations of operators, the environmental rights and the processing of the new integrated environmental permit, was passed with 64 votes in favour. The purpose of the General Part of the Environmental Code is to ensure reduction of environmental nuisances to the highest possible extent in order to protect the environment, human health, welfare, property and cultural heritage; promotion of sustainable development in order to ensure an environment corresponding to the health and welfare needs for this generation and the generations to come; preservation and protection of natural diversity; preservation of the good state of the environment and prevention of damage to the environment and compensation for the damage caused to the environment. This Act enters into force together with the entry into force of the Special Part of the Environmental Code Act.
 
The Act on Amendments to the University of Tartu Act and the Universities Act (858 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 66 votes in favour. The amendments establish a new management model of the University of Tartu: the university is managed by the five-member Council, the Senate and the Rector. The first is responsible for the economic activities and the second is responsible for the academic activities of the university. The Senate consists of the Rector (who is also the Chairman of the Senate) and up to twenty one members who are elected by the members of the University and at least one fifth of whom are students. The Rector is elected by the Council and the members of the Senate and other persons specified in the statutes pursuant to the procedure prescribed in the statutes of the University. The Rector manages the daily activities of the University, is responsible for the legitimate and expedient use of financial resources and exercises the highest administrative and disciplinary authority within the limits of his or her competence and on the basis of the decisions of the Council of the University. Clauses 1 2), 3), 6), 8) and 9) and § 2 of this Act enter into force on 1 January 2012.
 
The Act on Ratification of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the Right to Participate in the Affairs of a Local Authority (908 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 67 votes in favour. The Additional Protocol provides the obligations of signatories to secure to everyone the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority which includes at least the right of nationals to participate, as voters or candidates, in the election of members of the council or assembly of the local authority in which they reside. The ratification of the Additional Protocol does not affect Estonian law in terms of substance because the requirements arising therefrom have already been met. The Ratification was motivated in the first place by the wish to recognise the right of individuals to participate in the affairs of a local authority as a right arising from International law.
 
The Act on Ratification of Agreements for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (913 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 61 votes in favour. The Act concerns the Agreements entered into by the Government of the Republic of Estonia with the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Government of Moldova and their aim is to strengthen economic cooperation with these countries and to promote the business activities and economic growth of the parties. The Agreements help create a favourable investment climate and ensure equal treatment of investors. For the achievement of the goal, the Agreement determines the requirements for the activities related to investment (free transfer of payments, non-discrimination of investments, assignment of rights in event of a guarantee), creates the procedure for the settlement of disputes and regulates the expropriation of investments and the payment of the accompanying compensation.
 
The Act on Accession to the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (903 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 60 votes in favour. The purpose of the Convention is to oblige each State Party to this Convention not to engage in military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, longlasting or severe effects as the means of destruction, damage or injury to any other State Party. The Convention is intended to prevent the utilization of the environment as a means of war by prohibiting the use of environmental modification techniques which may cause phenomena such as earthquakes, tsunamis; an upset in the ecological balance of a region; changes in weather patterns (clouds, precipitation, cyclones of various types and tornadic storms); changes in climate patterns; changes in ocean currents; changes in the state of the ozone layer; and changes in the state of the ionosphere.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of twenty Bills:
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Bill (803 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill creates the special part to economic administration law which provides the general conditions and procedure for exercise of freedom of economic activities. The Bill was prepared with the aim of reducing the amount, extent and complexity of the regulations containing economic administration law, that is, reducing bureaucracy, and eliminating unjustified restrictions to the exercise of fundamental rights in the field of economic activities. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Other Acts (286 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to organise the rules for the pre-trial procedure and court procedure for criminal offences and the procedure for enforcement of the decisions made in criminal matters as well as to provide the bases of and the procedure for conducting the surveillance activities which allow to conduct surveillance activities which infringe the fundamental rights of the person, and to enhance the supervision exercised thereover. The Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of this Bill: 11 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 35 members voted against. Thus, the motion to suspend was not supported and the Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Waste Act, the Traffic Act, the Maritime Safety Act, the Heavy Goods Vehicle Act, the State Fees Act and the Roads Act arising from Reorganisation of the Road Administration and its Local Offices (892 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. Amendments are introduced to these Acts in connection with the merger of the Road Administration and local offices of the Road Administration as of 1 January 2011. As the Bill essentially only amends the names of the agencies in the Acts then the Act has an impact mainly in terms of legal clarity and is also reflected in the relevant legislation issued by the minister. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act (900 SE) was concluded. The Bill transposes into national law the directive of the Council of the European Union on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment The directive establishes the European Union Blue Card system which allows to engage in highly qualified employment and to move to a second Member State for the same purposes. In addition, the directive creates more favourable conditions for family reunification for family members of highly qualified third-country workers. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act, the Aviation Act and the State Fees Act (901 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to establish a uniform procedure upon appeal against the decision to refuse, annul or revoke a visa, to refuse to extend the period of stay or to terminate the stay prematurely. Pursuant to the Visa Code, Member States have to ensure aliens the possibility to appeal against the decision to refuse, annul or revoke a visa. The Bill brings national law into conformity with the long-stay visa Regulation as regards the period of validity of long-stay visas and the freedom of movement with a long-stay visa. The amendments of the Aviation Act concern the issuing of aircraft crew member certificates and the scrutiny of background. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Alimony Act, the State Legal Aid Act and the Code of Civil Procedure (917 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to bring Estonian national law into conformity with the Council of the European Union Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations. The purpose of the Regulation is to determine the law applicable to maintenance obligations in the case when a dispute is connected with several states and therefore the question arises under which state’s law to settle the dispute. It also determines with which state’s court the action should be filed in such case and how a decision given in a Member state can be enforced in other Member States. 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 Heritage Conservation Act and Other Associated Acts (806 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill is intended in particular to regulate the activities of persons who search for objects of cultural value as a hobby and the use of search devices. It also offers solutions to motivate people who find an object of cultural value to inform the state in order to prevent findings ending up in private collections. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Punishment Register Bill (762 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to create a legal basis for transfering of the punishment register from the area of government of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the area of government of the Ministry of Justice and to provide public access to the data of the punishment register. The punishment register is a database belonging to the state information system containing data concerning the persons punished and their punishments. According to the Bill, everyone will have the right to receive relevant data from the register, unless otherwise provided by law, and the Government of the Republic, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a police authority, the Prosecutor’s Office, prison service, employers and other entitled persons and agencies will have the right to receive data from the archives of the register. Data concerning the punishment of a person is entered in the register on the basis of a conviction in a criminal matter which has entered into force; a decision of an extra-judicial body or a court judgment on the imposition of punishment in a misdemeanour matter which has entered into force, except a decision of an extra-judicial body in warning proceedings; a court ruling ordering coercive psychiatric treatment of a person; a court ruling on the application of a sanction with regard to a person younger than 18 years of age, and in other cases. According to the amendment approved in the Legal Affairs Committee, persons entered in the punishment register will be disclosed starting from the punishment of up to 50 fine units (200 euro). The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Water Act and Associated Acts (905 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill transposes the relevant European Union Directives concerning maintaining of good environmental status of marine areas, ship-source pollution and the introduction of penalties for ship-source pollution offences. The amendment to the Building Act concerns the processing of the applications for a permit for the special use of water necessary for construction of structures permanently attached to the shore in public bodies of water and the issuing of permits for the special use of water which will fall within the competence of the Environmental Board. 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 Investment Funds Act and Associated Acts (907 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The main purposes of the Bill are the following: to regulate the principles of the remuneration of managers and senior officials of banks, insurers and management companies of pension funds and other public funds and undertakings listed on the stock exchange, including payment of performance pays, and the exercise of supervision over the implementation of these principles; to provide the requirements for the offering of certain savings and insurance products which contain an investment risk (the investment deposit and the unit-linked life insurance); to improve the regulation concerning market abuse, in particular to specify the content of the manipulation of the securities market; to make other, more technical amendments which increase the clarity of certain provisions of the legislation concerning the financial sector and try to resolve the ambiguities in the interpretation of the provisions. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Language Bill (808 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The new Language Bill establishes, among other things, the requirement of use of Estonian in outdoor advertising, including political outdoor advertising. According to the Bill, signs installed to a public place, labels, names of category of enterprises and outdoor advertisements, including outdoor advertisements installed for the purposes of political agitation, will have to be in Estonian. As regards the use of language in the press, media undertakings have to follow good practice of the use of language in their publications, web pages and television and radio programmes. The Act also defines the relation of sign language and signed Estonian language to the Estonian language. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Environmental Charges Act and the Taxation Act (912 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the organisation of payment of the pollution charge, the water abstraction charge and the mineral resources extraction charge. 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 the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act and Associated Acts (922 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to bring the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act into conformity with the requirements laid down in the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption. 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 the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act (921 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to create an opportunity for the Ministry of Agriculture and the foundation to provide individual aid outside the aid scheme as state aid and de minimis aid. According to the Act which is currently in force, the Ministry of Agriculture can grant individual aid outside the aid scheme only as state aid and the foundation cannot provide individual aid. The Bill also intends to extend the range of applicants for practical training support and to specify the provisions regulating the observance of the limits of de minimis aid in the agriculture sector and entry of data in register. 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 the Fisheries Market Organisation Act (922 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to create opportunities for better and more purposeful use of the funding allocated for the European Fisheries Fund contribution and for more flexible financing of projects and at the same time to limit the administrative burden imposed by processing of fisheries market contribution, to ensure the granting of state aid to fisheries and de minimis aid according to the rules in force in the European Union, as well as better understanding of the requirements of the Act. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Chancellor of Justice Act (915 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. With the amendments, the duties of children’s ombudsman are additionally assigned to the Chancellor of Justice according to Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that is, the Chancellor of Justice is granted express authority to deal with the rights of the child. In the opinion of the initiator, granting of such authorities indicates unambiguously that children and their rights are valued in the state and that the state takes the protection of the rights of the child seriously. According to the Bill, the competence of the Chancellor of Justice upon performance of the functions of children’s ombudsman is defined on the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and General Comment no. 2 on Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. According to this Document, the Chancellor of Justice is competent to undertake investigations into any situation of violation of children’s rights and conduct inquiries on matters relating thereto; prepare and publicize opinions, recommendations and reports on any matter relating to the promotion and protection of children’s rights; promote harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and perform other functions relating to children’s rights. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Enforcement Procedure and Other Acts (763 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill replaces the current possibility of imposition of a fine by a court by the regulation of the penalty payment imposed by a bailiff. In event of seizure of an account or a claim, the existing or a future bank account or a claim of the debtor will remain seized until satisfaction of the claim. Opportunities to withhold amounts from the income of the debtor upon fulfilment of a claim for maintenance support for a child are extended. Provisions concerning expiry of the limitation period for the enforcement of a pecuniary punishment or a fine to the extent of assets imposed for a criminal offence are specified. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (862 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to introduce into penal law the amendments concerning environmental crime which are made on the basis of European Union law. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Roads Act (882 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the amendments is to transpose into Estonian law the legal provisions necessary for the implementation of the relevant European Union directive. The purpose of the Directive is to improve the safety of road infrastructure within the trans-European road network by establishing procedures for road safety impact assessments, road safety audits, the management of road network safety and safety inspections by the Member States. 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 Liquid Fuel Act and the Value Added Tax Act (895 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to organise the fuel market and to prevent value added tax evasion. The Bill provides the amounts of security for all sellers of fuel: on the release for consumption of fuel, the security of a seller of fuel will be 1 000 000 euro, and the security of a seller of the fuel released for consumption will be 100 000 euro. The Tax and Customs Board will require securities in order to prevent emergence of fake enterprises and to improve receipt of the value added tax. At the same time, the Tax and Customs Board will have the right to require a greater security from the seller of fuel, considering the potential value added tax liability, on the basis of the risk assessment. The security will not apply to a seller of fuel who handles only aviation fuels or liquefied gas. The initiator stated that the fuel market has reached a situation where even a person who lacks the infrastructure and staff necessary therefor and who can present the required share capital or a liability insurance contract only at the moment of application for registration can register as a seller of fuel. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
Two Bills passed the first reading.
 
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Act (927 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to eliminate the three deficiencies pointed out in the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Act by the European Commission and at the same time to terminate the infringement procedure No 2008/2292 which states that the relevant Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning integrated pollution prevention and control has not been correctly transposed into the Estonian legal system. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Securities Market Act and Other Associated Acts (923 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The main purposes of the Bill are to transpose into Estonian law the European Union directive concerning financial collaterals and securities settlement and to specify the register acts related to the securities account in the Estonian Central Register of Securities.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
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