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The Riigikogu passed with 94 votes in favour the Act on Ratification of Amendments to the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context and the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (601 SE), initiated by the Government. The convention was concluded in Espoo in 1991 and it entered into force on 10 September 1997. Estonia acceded to the Convention on 15 November 2000 and it entered into force in Estonia on 24 July 2001. The Convention provides that transboundary environmental impact assessments shall be undertaken if proposed activities are likely to cause significant adverse transboundary impact. The Convention was necessitated by the growing concern about transboundary waste. At the second meeting of the parties to the Convention which took place in Sofia on 26–27 February 2001, a decision on amendment of the Convention was adopted. The amendment extends the definition of public. The public that may participate in procedures under the Convention includes civil society and, in particular, nongovernmental organizations, and the Convention allows states who are not members of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to accede to the Convention. Both extension of the meaning of the term “public” and opening of the Convention for states situated outside the UN/ECE region are important measures which aim to ensure general awareness of environmental issues and to promote wider implementation of the relevant legislation. Thus, amendment of the Convention helps improve environmental protection policy.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of two Bills:
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Competition Act (438 SE), initiated by the Government, improves combating of cartels and other serious violations of competition law.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Forensic Examination Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Establishment of Cause of Death Act (606 SE), initiated by the Government, provides the prices of forensic examination in order to ensure that the process of establishing the prices is in conformity of with the Constitution. The same Bill also establishes fixed prices for forensic psychiatric examinations and for forensic psychiatric/forensic psychological complex examinations.
 
On the motion of the Estonian Green Party Faction (46 in favour, 34 against), the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act (605 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended. The purpose of the Bill is to create preconditions for real functioning of the electricity market and launching of the electricity stock exchange in Estonia.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of four Bills:
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Language Act and the Citizenship Act (635 SE), initiated by the Government, is to bring databases and information systems of the Ministry of Education and Research, both the existing ones as well as those being established, involving language proficiency examinations of Estonian and the examination on the knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and the Citizenship Act into conformity with the provisions of the regulation of databases in the Public Information Act which has been amended. At the same time, it aims to improve the capacity of the Ministry of Education and Research to systematise and automatise data.
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act and the Act on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors thereof (617 SE), initiated by the Government, is to eliminate the restriction on the free movement of services and to enable availability of medicinal products in Estonia on the basis of medical prescriptions issued in other European Union Member States. Another purpose of the Bill is to eliminate the restrictions on issue and amendment of the activity licence of general pharmacy. Amending of the Act on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors thereof restricts recognition of medical prescriptions for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances issued on the basis of medical prescriptions issued in other European Union Member States, in view of the high risk of falsification of medical prescriptions and abuse of medicinal products.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (640 SE), initiated by the Government, intends to prevent communication of an adult and a child from developing into a physical sexual relationship and thereby to prevent sexual abuse of children.
Passing of the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (642 SE), initiated by the Government, will have a significant impact above all on international economic relationships because the Bill harmonises the Estonian penal law with the EU Framework Decision.
 
At Question Time, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered the question about the Government’s labour market policy, submitted by Kadri Simson. The Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur answered the question about legislative proceeding of the Bill relating to family benefits and subsistence benefits, submitted by Eiki Nestor, and the question about labour policy, submitted by Mai Treial. The Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder answered the question about rural enterprise and unemployment, submitted by Arvo Sarapuu.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
 
 
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