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The Riigikogu passed with 76 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Water Act (391 SE), initiated by the Government. The aim of the amendments is to specify the standards related to the EU directive (2007/60/EC) and to update agricultural regulations concerning the use of fertilizers with a view to ensuring a more effective protection of the aquatic environment. Some provisions of the Act enter into force on 1 July 2014.

The Act on Amendments to the Act on Granting International Protection to Aliens and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (354 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 43 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to ensure a regulation which allows for asylum seekers to be detained for performance of initial procedural acts or in the case when it is necessary in the interests of the protection of public order or national security. Detention may be imposed only in the case when other surveillance measures provided for in the Act (e.g. residing in a determined place of residence and admission for deposit of a travel document issued by a foreign state) cannot be effectively imposed. In addition to the above, issues related to the asylum seekers’ accommodation centre are also specified. The accommodation centre remains in the area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs and its function is to arrange for the provision of accommodation, medical examination and other essential services to asylum seekers. 39 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. The Act enters into force on 1 October 2013.

The Vocational Educational Institutions Act (331 SE), initiated by the Government, was approved with 45 votes in favour (16 votes against). It replaces the Vocational Educational Institutions Act which entered into force in 1998 and has become outdated today. The new Act defines new types of vocational training and provides for transition from the current types of vocational training (vocational training without the requirement of basic education, on the basis of basic education and on the basis of secondary education, and vocational secondary education) to new types of training linked to the Estonian qualification framework. The Act enters into force on 1 September 2013; § 73 enters into force on 1 January 2014.

The Act on Amendments to § 22 of the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act (334 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was passed with 74 votes in favour. According to the amendment, the write-off of a study loan for persons who are permanently incapacitated for work extends also to persons who do not work but who care for a child with a profound disability and to whom the rural municipality government or city government pays the allowance for caring for a disabled child. A waiver of the claim for the performance of the obligations of the recipient of loan is applied to the study loan of a parent who cares constantly for a child with a profound disability. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2014.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Building Act (429 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure conformity of Estonian legislation with European Union legislation. As of 1 July 2013, the European Council Directive 89/106/EEC will be repealed and Regulation No 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC will be fully applicable. The Bill provides for an obligation for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to grant the right to act to a technical assessment body which meets the requirements laid down in the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. 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 European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Act (432 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The amendments concern the power granted to establish the legislation necessary for application of the common agricultural policy, the “LEADER approach” and the recovery and repayment of aid. The Bill enables the Government and the Minister of Agriculture to establish an individual act, that is, an administrative act in a matter of application of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy which under European Union legislation may be decided by the Member State, for regulating a single case, where necessary. The Bill also increases transparency and integrity in the running of the LEADER approach local action groups and encourages members of local action groups to participate more actively in the decision-making process of the action group. At the same time, the Bill updates the provisions concerning the recovery and repayment of aid and repayment of aid by instalments, and the calculation of interest on the amount to be repaid, and brings the provisions into conformity with European Union legislation which has been amended. 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 Feedingstuffs Act (431 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to bring the provisions concerning the handling and use of feedingstuffs containing animal protein and the registration and approval of establishments into conformity with European Union law. The aim of the amendments is to ensure traceability and a high level of consumer protection throughout the feed and food chain, to enhance feed hygiene and to reduce the risk that contaminated products enter the food chain. 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 and the Identity Documents Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (425 SE), initiated by the Government, 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 third reading.

On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Museums Bill (374 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The new Museums Act establishes the bases for the activities of museums and the organisation of museum collections, and the conditions for compensation by the state for damage caused to an owner of an international exhibition. As major amendments as compared with the Museums Act of 1996, the scope of application of the Act is restricted (it will not automatically apply to municipal museums and museums of legal persons in public law), the principles of replenishment of museum collections are defined, and the range of museums to whom a museum collection owned by the state may be granted for use is extended. In addition, the digital images of museum objects and digital museum objects will be made available on the web free of charge to everyone. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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