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The Riigikogu passed six Acts:

Act on Amendments to the Securities Market Act and Associated Acts (108 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 78 votes in favour. The Act helps to ensure the formation of common securities market of the European Union. The number of regulated fields increases and the regulation improves in detail, which in its turn sets higher requirements for the carrying out of financial supervision. The Act creates a legal basis for the better internal integration of the European Common Market in the field of investment services. The financial instruments markets directive, transposed by the Bill, regulates in depth the content and scope of investment services, issues concerning the activity licences of investment firms and regulated securities market organisers, and other aspects of supervision. In addition, the directive sets out common standards for the provision of investment services to clients.

Act on Amendments to Employment Services and Subsidies Act and Associated Acts (103 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 80 votes in favour. The Act establishes a labour policy information system that enables efficient analysis and monitoring of political measures in the sphere of labour policy.

Act on Accession to the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (71 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, was passed with 64 votes in favour. The Act invests the Tribunal with the legal capacity necessary for fulfilling its duties and the members and employees of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea with the privileges, immunity and benefits necessary for the completion of their tasks. The members and employees of the Tribunal must base their activities exclusively on international law and must not receive or accept guidance from states.

Act on Accession to the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the International Seabed Authority (72 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, was passed with 63 votes in favour. The objective of the Act is to invest the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) with the privileges and immunities necessary for the independent fulfilment of its obligations. ISBA needs privileges and immunities not only in relations with the state of location of its headquarters – Jamaica – but also with parties to the agreement, since ISBA and its personnel may find themselves under the jurisdiction of a party to the agreement. As opposed to normal diplomatic privileges and immunities, it is not in the interest of states to follow the principle of reciprocity, but to let the ISBA function independently, efficiently and without fear of intervention.

Act on the Ratification of the 2005 Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the 2005 Protocol Amending the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf (109 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, was passed with 64 votes in favour. The Act completes the Convention with stipulations outlawing forceful seizing of power over a vessel, violence against the people on board and introduction into the vessel of objects which are likely to destroy or harm it. It was stipulated that a person has committed a crime in the meaning of the Convention if the purpose of his or her act was to sow fear among the people or to force a government or an international organisation to carry out or not to carry out a certain act, and if he or she uses an explosive or radioactive substance or a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon against a vessel, on board of a vessel or releases it from the vessel in a way which might cause death, serious injury or considerable damage; or releases from the vessel oil, liquefied gas or other unspecified dangerous or harmful substance in volume or concentration which causes or might cause death, serious injury or considerable damage, etc.

Act on the Ratification of the Agreement on the Development of Airspace Surveillance Network and Control System between the Government of the Republic of Estonia, the Government of the Republic of Latvia and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (90 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, was passed with 60 votes in favour. The Act defines the principles of cooperation in developing and controlling the Baltic Air Surveillance Network BALTNET and establishes a common Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) in Lithuania, staffed with international personnel. The Agreement establishes the principles of the BALTNET structure, control, financial organisation, possession and use of property, and giving out of information. Pursuant to the Agreement, BALTNET is an integral part of the NATO air defence system which carries out airspace surveillance, weapons control, system control and training on the territories of the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania. BALTNET is made up of units fulfilling the functions of NATO airspace defence: CRC, control and reporting posts, reporting posts and equipment handed over to BALTNET (radars, radios, communication lines, etc).

The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of three Bills:

Bill on Amendments to the Police Act, the Aliens Act, the Obligation to Leave and Prohibition to Entry Act and Identity Documents Act (75 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure the completion of tasks proceeding from the Schengen agreement by complementing national law.

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act (99 SE), initiated by the Government, is to facilitate the migration of students and scientists from third states and to establish common standards for applying for a residence permit.

The reason behind the Bill on the Amendments to the State Pension Insurance Act and the Funded Pensions Act (79 SE), initiated by the Government, is the regulation of the Council of the European Union which regulates the transfer of pension rights from the pension scheme of the European Communities institutions to the pension system of a member state, and vice versa. The Council regulation stipulates that when a person who has worked in Estonia has joined the staff of a European Communities institution, he or she has the right to make a single transferral of his or her pension rights to the relevant pension scheme of the European Communities institutions within 10 years after appointment to office. After the termination of his or her employment relationship in the European Communities institutions, the person enjoys a similar right upon starting work in Estonia: he or she may make a single transferral of the pension rights acquired in the European Communities institutions.

The Riigikogu suspended the second reading of the Bill on the Export and Import of Cultural Valuables (78 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of five Bills:

The State Budget of the Year 2008 Bill (122 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. When presenting the Bill, Minister of Finance Ivari Padar said that the budget is aimed at three major goals. „Firstly, increase in salaries and pensions; secondly, sizeable rise in expenses on education and support to enterprises; thirdly, the largest planned budget surplus of our financial history,” the Minister emphasised. The revenue of the 2008 State Budget is EEK 96.3 billion and the expenditure is EEK 93.6 billion. Compared to 2007, the State Budget has been increased by almost one quarter. For the second time in Estonia’s history, the State Budget has been planned with a surplus. The planned surplus exceeds the last one. The next year’s predicted budget surplus of the government sector is EEK 3.6 billion or 1.3 % of the GNP. The total volume of national stockpiles and property managed by the State Treasury exceeds EEK 22 billion and will increase by nearly EEK 10 billion during this year and the next. In 2008, the debt level of the government sector will fall to 2.3 % of the GNP, which is the lowest in Europe.

The revenue in the Supplementary Budget of the Year 2007 Bill (121 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, is EEK 6.2 billion and the expenditure is EEK 2.7 billion. EEK 3.5 billion, i.e. nearly 60% of the budget’s extra revenue, will be appointed to the reserves. The largest expenditure article of the supplementary budget consists of allocations to the Health Insurance Fund: EEK 1.09 billion. The government wants to allocate supplementary EEK 537 billion to cover the pension increase of 1 July.

Bill on Amendments to the University of Tartu Act (131 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, is aimed at organising the duties and liabilities of state agencies in issues of medical residency in a more purposeful manner, taking into account the competence of the agencies. The transferral of residency commissions and funding from the Ministry of Education and Research to the Ministry of Social Affairs is expected to add value to many participants of the process. The Bill has an impact on collecting and exchanging data as well as on carrying out state supervision.

Bill on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act and the Vocational Educational Institutions Act (115 SE), initiated by the Government, is the first legal act to stipulate the bases for paying starting assistance to teachers who are starting at their first teaching post. The proposed starting assistance for 2008 is EEK 200,000, paid to teachers on conditions stipulated in the Bill within their first three working years – EEK 100,000 during the first year, EEK 50,000 during both the second and the third year. Teachers will not receive starting assistance during parental leave. The paying of starting assistance will be continued to a person with justified claim to it after the termination of the parental leave, taking into consideration the sum of the starting assistance valid during the year of the initial employment of the teacher. The Minister of Research and Education appoints a competent agency – the National Examination and Qualification Centre – to organise the paying of teachers’ starting assistance.

Bill on the Ratification of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Design and Other Acts Arising Therefrom (100 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. As a result of the amendment, the applicant is given the opportunity to submit applications to register industrial design solutions at the international level to the WIPO International Bureau through the Patent Office. This makes the system more applicant-friendly by giving the applicant a choice.

At Question Time, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered the questions about the funding for local governments, Estonian-Swedish energy cooperation, state stockpiles, State Budget and inflation. Minister of Justice Rein Lang answered the questions about the activities of law enforcement authorities, protection of personal information, developing of web pages of local governments and consolidating circuit courts. Minister of Regional Affairs Vallo Reimaa answered the questions about regional administration.

The sitting ended at 7.59 p.m.

The verbatim record (in Estonian) can be found at: https://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno

The Riigikogu Press Service

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