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Riigikogu

The Riigikogu resumed the discussion of the Government’s European Union policy which had been suspended on Tuesday, 15 November. On behalf of the Estonian Reform Party Faction, Member of the Riigikogu Rainer Vakra took the floor. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip presented closing remarks.

The Act on Amendments to the Peace-Time National Defence Act and the War-Time National Defence Act (78 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 73 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments is to specify the wording of the Acts, to update the terminology related to national defence and to rename the current “military defence development plan” “the national defence development plan”. Thereby, the development plan which is updated is brought into conformity with the logic of the source documents of national defence and it is possible to apply the principles provided in the National Security Concept and the National Defence Strategy.
 
The Act on Ratification of Agreements for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (87 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 57 votes in favour. The Act ratifies three agreements for the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments: those between the Republic of Estonia and the United Arab Emirates, between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The aim of the Agreements is to create a favourable investment climate and ensure equal treatment of investors of both Contracting Parties. 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.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act (83 SE) was concluded. The Bill was prepared with the aim to regulate the financing and the organisation of the work of the rescue commando of the Estonian Power Plant of Narva Power Plants Ltd. In today’s situation where the East-Estonian Rescue Centre is responsible for the organisation of the work and the functioning of the rescue commando and Narva Power Plants Ltd is responsible for the financing, neither the quality nor the structural transparency of the provision of the service is sufficiently guaranteed and long-term planning of the activities of the rescue commando is complicated, in the opinion of the initiator. The Bill specifies the requirements for providers of a vital service and guarantees the structural transparency of the East-Estonian Rescue Centre and the quality of the provision of the service. 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 Private Schools Act and Other Acts (92 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The regulation concerning joint study programmes in the Universities Act is amended with the aim of supporting the cooperation of educational institutions in opening joint study programmes. The regulation of the Universities Act being applied also to private schools and institutions of professional higher education, the relevant references in the Private Schools Act and the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act have been corrected. The amendments support the possibility of establishing new innovative interdisciplinary study programmes which engage different fields of strength of educational institutions. In addition, the Bill corrects the mistake in the Private Schools Act which up to now put private universities in an inequitable situation as compared to universities in public law by requiring that specialised private universities carry out instruction at all levels in several fields of study. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act and the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (128 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to establish an allowances system allowing a start-up allowance in an amount of up to 15 000 euro for doctors commencing their practice with a view to motivating them to take up practice in rural areas. The allowance is meant for doctors who after the completion of residency commence work at local and general hospitals and in family physician practices which are located outside the attraction centres of Tallinn and Tartu and the regions bordering thereon. The Bill also amends the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act such that opportunities to obtain help in job search would be better ensured to persons wishing to find a job. The Bill harmonises the rules on helping job seekers primarily with regard to the principles for the calculation of and the rates of benefits. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Development Fund Act (102 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The aim of the amendments is to subject the activities of the Development Fund which are related to governing of venture capital to the requirements of the Investment Funds Act, and to enable the state to acquire units or shares of the venture capital fund established by the Development Fund. In addition to the above, the principles of financing the operating expenses, including the development monitoring of the Development Fund are amended and the content of the acts performed in connection with the development monitoring is specified. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Plant Protection Act and Other Associated Acts (105 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to resolve the problems which have emerged in the implementation of the Plant Protection Act, to unify the text of the Act and to harmonise it with the relevant Regulation and Directive. One change as compared to the earlier regulation is the change of the criteria for the evaluation and approval of the active substances of plant protection products and the rules on the placing of plant protection products on the market. The risk-based approach will be replaced by the hazard-based approach, so that plant protection products which may have a harmful effect on human health will not reach the market in the future. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the second reading of the Strategic Goods Bill (96 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill was prepared due to the need to transpose European Union directives. The aim of the latter is to simplify terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community and to establish an appropriate and modern strategic goods control system well functioning in practice. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the State Budget of 2012 Bill (99 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Chairman of the Finance Committee Sven Sester gave an overview of the discussions that had been held in the Finance Committee and the meetings with ministers that had been held with the aim of thoroughly discussing the budget positions of ministries. 25 motions to amend the Bill had been submitted for the second reading and, in addition, the Finance Committee had submitted a motion to amend which to a large part consisted of technical amendments within the areas of administration of ministries. Also, amendments which bring the rates and limits arising from the Act into conformity with the planned amendments and specified needs will be added. The Committee supported the motion of the Social Democratic Party Faction to add an additional item to the state budget, according to the European Union Information Centre of the National Library. The motion of members of the same Faction to designate additional funds to the Estonian Public Broadcasting for broadcasting news in English has been accepted partially. The revenues of the state budget of 2012 will amount to 6.11 billion and the expenditures will amount to 6.57 billion euro. New motions to amend will have to be submitted to the Finance Committee by 6 p.m. on 21 November. 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 State Budget of 2011 Act (114 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to amend the budgets of constitutional institutions, the State Chancellery and ministries. The major amendments concern health care and social protection expenditure. Health care expenditure will increase by 836 468 euro, that is, by 0.1%. This includes 509 840 euro intended for procuring additional HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis medicines and 250 000 euro planned for procuring ten resuscitation devices for the emergency medical care on small islands and in borderlands. Additional 89 326 euro are planned for leisure, cultural and religious activities which will increase the expenditure of this sphere by 0.05%. The funds will be used for development of the environment education centre at the Estonian Museum of Natural History and for renovation of the exhibition building of the Estonian Agricultural Museum. The funds allocated for guaranteeing public order and security will increase by 58 514 euro, that is, by 0.02%. The funds are provided for covering the repair and maintenance expenses of rescue vehicles and for mitigating the fuel price rise. In cooperation with ministries, the Finance Committee has prepared 7 motions to amend which include several specifying and technical amendments. 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 (106 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the amendments is to transpose into Estonian law the legal provisions necessary for the implementation of the relevant directives of the Council of the European Union. They will make the administrative cooperation in the field of taxation between Estonia and other Member States more efficient, and simplify and harmonise the international tax recovery procedure and the procedure for the exchange of information necessary for taxation. The provisions which have been problematic in the interpretation and application of the current Act are also specified which will improve legal certainty in tax proceedings for taxable persons as well as for tax authorities. 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 Police and Border Guard Act, the Rescue Act, the Rescue Service Act and Other Acts arising from Reorganisation of Agencies (116 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill was prepared in connection with reorganisation of the local agencies of the Rescue Board and their merge with the Rescue Board, the establishing of the Alarm Centre, and in view of reorganisation of prefectures into regional structural units of the Police and Border Guard Board as of 1 January 2012. The Bill introduces in the Acts the amendments necessary therefor. The Social Democratic Party Faction and the Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 48 members of the Riigikogu voted against the motion and 41 members voted in favour, one member abstained. Thus, the Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Public Transport Act and the State Fees Act (115 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to provide the amendments to the Public Transport Act arising from the Regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council regulating the application of common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services. Several amendments concern the wording or are of technical nature. For example, “public transport licence” will be replaced by “Community licence”. Also, under the Act which is currently in force, a licence card is a document necessary upon both carriage by bus and taxi service. According to the Bill, a licence card will be required only in the case of taxi service; upon carriage by bus, it will be replaced by a certified copy of a Community licence. The Committee had reviewed the Bill with regard to the rules of legislative drafting and made some specifications concerning the content. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act and the Maritime Safety Act (82 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill was prepared with the aim of bringing national law into conformity with the European Parliament and Council directive on the insurance of shipowners for maritime claims. The Directive is part of the so-called third maritime safety package and its main aim is to better ensure the covering of the damages caused by marine casualties by tightening the requirements relating to the payment of compensations. 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 Code of Criminal Procedure and Other Acts (123 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. According to the Bill, the deadline for entry into force of this Act is changed. The Act on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Other Acts which amended the legal regulation of surveillance had been passed in the Riigikogu on 17 February 2011, and 1 January 2012 had been established as the deadline for entry into force of the Act. The aim of the amendments is to postpone it by one year and to enforce the Act on 1 January 2013 because the Chancellor of Justice has ascertained that clauses 12615 (2) 2) and 3) are in conflict with the Constitution and the Ministry of Justice is preparing a Bill for bringing these provisions into conformity with the Constitution and for amending several other provisions concerning surveillance in the same Act. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
The sitting ended at 10.21 p.m.
 
See the verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
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